Leaping Over Sales Objections

Leaping Over Sales Objections

By Mark Roberge via HubSpot

“I’m too busy, call back next quarter.”

“Just send me some information.”

“We don’t have budget outlined for this.”

These objections likely sound familiar to you. The vast majority are simply knee-jerk reactions from busy people who don’t yet see the value in working with you.

The key to success is to be prepared to overcome them and move prospects to the next step. When faced with objections, there are two key best practices to apply:

1) Articulate value early and concisely.
You can mitigate the “I don’t understand the value and I’m too busy to think about it.” objection above by simply respecting the prospect’s time and explaining what you want early in your outreach. Every email, voicemail, and phone interaction should lead with an assurance that you won’t take much time, followed by a short (30 seconds or less, or one to two sentences), buyer-centric, and customized value proposition.

2) Don’t sell the product, sell the next step.
It does not matter if the prospect is ready for a buying conversation yet. How could they be? It’s possible they’ve only just learned about you and your product from this call. Don’t get into a product conversation yet. If they ask a product question, recommend that you show them in the next meeting.

The Top 6 Prospecting Objections

Here are the six most common objections prospectors face, along with some very simple approaches to responding to them.

1) The Brush-Off

What this sounds like: “Just send me some information.”

This objection varies in intent depending on when it comes up in your call with a prospect. If it comes up before you have had the chance to deliver your value proposition and explain who you are and what you do, it’s very clearly a brush-off. If it comes afterward, but before you’ve had the chance to ask qualification questions, there may be interest, but the prospect isn’t yet willing to talk about it further. If it comes at the end of your call, after you’ve gone through both your value prop and qualification, the prospect may have decided this isn’t valuable somewhere along the way. No matter where it comes up in the call, it’s the SDR’s duty to uncover what is really going on: Do they not yet understand the value, or are they not ready for a buying conversation? Why not?

Responses: There are a few potential responses to this one, depending on what stage the call is in.

  • Before you’ve delivered the value proposition: “Can we take 30 seconds now for me to explain what we do, and you can then decide if it’s worth a follow-up?”
  • Before qualification: “Can I ask you a couple questions now to better understand how we might help?”
  • After qualification: “Typically, people find it more valuable to see how this works in a demo.”

2) Competition

What this sounds like: “We already work with Competitor X.”

This is where it’s important to know why you are unique, and be able to explain that value clearly. Your prospect just heard, “Hi, we do X” and thought, “Oh, we have a vendor for that, we’re good.” Your prospects are busy — they don’t want to fix things that aren’t broken. It is your duty to change their mindset, and explain why they need the specific value you provide.

Response: “At this point, we aren’t asking you to rip anything out. A lot of our customers used to or still use Competitor X. We’d just like the opportunity to show you how we are different and how we have provided additional value to our customers. We can present some use cases of other companies like yours who work with us and with Competitor X. When is a good time to schedule a follow up call?”

3) Procrastination

What this sounds like: “Call me back in a quarter.”

Prospects are busy. They will push anything off to tomorrow because today is swamped. Don’t let them! You have a solution they needed yesterday. Reassure them that this is not a buying conversation. You just want to show them what you do, and see if there’s value for them.

Response: “Of course. If it really is bad timing, I’m happy to do that. However, I would still like to set up a five minute call to show you what we are doing and how we might help. That way, if it’s not interesting, we don’t have to worry about me chasing you next quarter, but if it is, we’ll have more to talk about then. When is a good day/time for us to chat?”

4) Budget

What this sounds like: “We don’t have budget for this.”

If budget is an important part of your qualified lead definition (e.g. traditional BANT) this may be a stopping point. Even with BANT however, it is important to dig a bit further to understand what not having budget means. Can they not afford it? Has your buyer burned through his personal budget for the year? Could your buyer find the money elsewhere if you show enough value? In most cases, the prospect doesn’t need to have a budget at this stage of the process, and SDRs should leverage this fact to overcome this objection.

Response: “That’s okay. We don’t expect you to buy anything right now. We’d just like the opportunity to share what we are doing and see if it’s valuable to your company. Can we schedule a follow up call over the next couple days?”

5) Getting in the Weeds

What this sounds like: “Does your product do X, Y, and Z?”

This isn’t so much an objection as an obstacle to closing a call with a prospect and getting them to the next appointment, (e.g., a demo, or a discovery call with the sales rep). However, it is one of the most common obstacles that prevent an SDR from converting the lead to an SQL. Not only does getting in the weeds waste time, you also run the potential of devolving into a features/benefits conversation. The good news is this generally means the prospect is interested. Use this fact to end the conversation and set up the next appointment.

Response: “I am glad you asked that. I think it will be helpful to set up a time where we can answer this question and others with a specialist. When is a good day/time for us to talk?”

6) Focused on other projects

What this sounds like: “Thanks for the call, but we’re just not in the market for new software right now, we’ve got a couple other things we need to see through. Reach back out in 6 months.”

Response: [Name], completely understand that it’s never a good time to entertain new projects. We’ve actually seen X increase in Y with clients utilizing our software. Just out of curiosity, what other initiatives are you in the middle of now?

When No Means No

That said, at a certain point no means no. The responses to the common objections above give you a way to pierce through the reactionary objections prospects give without thinking. However, if you have said your piece and the prospect still objects, let it go. Nobody is going to buy against their will. Get as clear as you can on the objection and try to determine what your prospect is really concerned about, but don’t push past the prospect’s point of comfort. Rule of thumb: if the prospect says an objection twice, it’s real. No means no.


5 Tips to Keep Your Employees Happy

5 Tips to Keep Your Employees Happy

By Ashley Vance

No company can be successful without a team of trusted employees working behind the scenes! Though finding good employees is an important accomplishment, knowing how to keep them happily engaged is an entirely different mission. Maintaining a relationship with your employees can be a struggle at times, so here are 5 steps to keep your employees motivated day after day, week after week.

Show them respect:
Sounds simple enough, right? Despite being an unwritten rule of all human interaction, respect, or a lack thereof, is perhaps the most common reason employees choose to leave your organization. Employees are people, too! Be sure to speak to them like grown-ups, and not small children or workers in a factory.

Hold regular meetings. Having an optional weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meeting automatically instills commitment. If you can successfully keep your employees in the loop, your project could become their project after just a few brief meetings. Developing physical, face-to-face contact on a regular basis gives you the chance to make them an official part of your team & point them in the direction of your overall goal. Your employees probably do the majority of your grunt work and will most likely have suggestions about the process, so make sure the meeting allows for a time to provide input!

Give them T-Shirts. I know what you’re thinking: this step costs money. Fortunately, nothing motivates people like free stuff! Not only will a T-Shirt increase their desire to be a part of your team, but it can also be a good advertising medium for you company or upcoming events.

Be accessible. Check in with your employees frequently to simply touch bases and answer any questions they may have. Trust me, no one wants to work for someone who doesn’t communicate well!

Lead by example. Don’t be a dictator! If you want to keep your employees pleased, you should probably refrain from barking out senseless orders. Practice what you preach, and actually do what they do from time to time.

If you can commit to these 5 Steps, you can certainly increase the tenure of you employees.

Public Relations: Four “WOW” Ways to Use It for Sales

Public Relations: Four “WOW” Ways to Use It for Sales

By Lisa Calhoun via MarketingProfs

“PR is an insanely valuable activity in early-stage companies,” wrote venture capitalist Mark Suster on his popular blog for startups.

The problem is that most companies focused on growth are almost allergic to public relations: It takes a ton of time, it doesn’t easily lend itself to metrics, and the people who work in PR are often big picture, strategic—or, if you’d rather, “fuzzy”—thinkers.

In other words, PR people don’t fit easily into the world of the bootstrapped or venture-backed growth company.

Yet, founders and investors alike will acknowledge that a company’s perceived lack of credibility is one of the silent killers of great sales opportunities: Big potential clients can circle and circle, but they are famously risk-averse. In this era of transparency, social proof, and infinite-pages-on-Forbes, a company that doesn’t have great coverage or exposure is almost questionable—and that’s enough to kill big deals.

Public relations and sales are perfect companions

Fortunately, with the right technology and tracking, public relations is the perfect support to a natural lead nurturing process. PR creates enough credibility so that you can…

  1. Encourage starter customers to grow into enterprise customers
  2. Reassure existing investors with social traction
  3. Attract new investors for your next round
  4. Build your qualified site traffic and Alexa score all at once

Here are four simple ways you can use public relations to enhance your sales—and track it.

1. Build qualified traffic through social media

Share the great coverage you’ve achieved: Highlight it in your newsletter (if you have one), on your LinkedIn and other social media pages, and in a running news feed on your website. Make it apparent that your industry is in love with you.

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • More credibility (hard to measure)
  • Lots more awareness (hard to measure)
  • Attaboys from investors
  • 10-20% boosts in qualified Web traffic (watch the inbound social link traffic to see it happen)

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Follow the journalists you want to cover you.
  2. Read their work and reshare it with insightful comments, always providing appropriate attribution. Depending on your needs and profile, use a right-sized social media tool to make this easier, such as HootSuite, Radian6, Buffer, or (one of my favorites) Attentive.ly.
  3. When they cover you, send the piece to your prospects and your customers, put it in your website, share it, and thank them.
  4. Repeat.

2. Make lead generation events do double duty

There’s nothing like having people who already trust you in the room—learning to trust you more and sharing that with others. That’s why event marketing is ranked by B2B marketers year after year as their “go-to” sales tactic, according to the MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute annual study.

Your marketing team already executes trendy client development events, now consider inviting trade journalists, local journalists, and promising bloggers to come meet sources and learn the trends, too. You may even jump for a ticket for a writer who really gets your field and your company.

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Top-notch coverage of your event
  • Better relationships with journalists—priceless over the long haul
  • Inbound prospects from links in the articles (trackable!)
  • Bonus points from clients and investors who see that you are the go-to company in your industry

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go back to that list of journalists, and have your CEO invite them to participate on a press pass, all expenses paid.
  2. Assign one person on your team, or from your agency, to help the journalists connect. See whether they can do briefings with a key client or two as well as a couple of your inside thought leaders.
  3. Make sure they get a company backgrounder, possibly case study notes prewritten, and bios, ahead of the event.
  4. Provide a quiet private room for the journalists to work with lots of power, coffee, and raging-fast Internet.

3. Hijack the smartest minds in your industry

What, you haven’t written your book yet? Of course not! Growth stage companies are too busy for major campaigns like book writing. The next best thing is to develop a mutually beneficial alliance with a leading author or two in your field.

Authors are looking for ways to promote their books—and you’d like to reach their audience, too. Combing forces is one way to do both. Creating a webinar on a topic of interest both to the author and to you creates content that is twice as interesting. Moreover, the author’s network enlarges the distribution footprint.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Read books in your industry (you’re already doing that, right?).
  2. Pick three authors who speak to you or your team.
  3. Reach out to them on their author website or LinkedIn, inviting them to speak with you about a webinar series. Ask whether they would be open to promoting the series to their own fans (you’ll want to hear a “yes”).
  4. Offer to buy copies of their book for attendees, or for attendees who attend and ask questions. It’s quid pro quo: This person needs to promote and sell books; make sure you help.
  5. Mention your webinar series with the author when you are speaking with trade journalists.
  6. List the author webinar in the trade calendars as an industry event.
  7. Have one of your content developers write up the webinar with the author and your expert as a blog post or series of posts.

Here’s what you get:

  • Access to a new group of potential clients through the authors’ distribution list
  • Signups for your webinar consisting of people interested in the topic who are now on your nurture list
  • More credibility

4. Put clients on commission

Few clients like to go on the record with a no-holds barred testimonial, so don’t ask them for it. Instead, ask them to go on video with a short industry perspective at your next big tradeshow, where presumably you and the client will both attend.

Used properly on your website, these kinds of pieces showcase the kind of company you are by showcasing the quality of the company you keep. One example is the recent video by ENGAGE.cx, a CRM startup: Its video features thought leadership from a former VP of CRM at Oracle and at Intercontinental Hotels group.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Look for clients who are building their personal reputation as thought leaders.
  2. Ask whether they would provide a perspective on an issue that matters to you business and your prospective clients.
  3. Provide 1-3 questions in advance for your client.
  4. Send a video team to them. You’ll find their perspective speaks for itself when they showcase their own strengths and insights.
  5. Put the video on your website and develop a social media campaign around it.
  6. Ask your client and your client’s PR team to promote their point of view.
  7. Send it to journalists and ask whether they’d like to interview your client and your internal expert on the topic.

Here’s what you get:

  • Enormous credibility kudos
  • Nice soundbites for investors about why companies are working with you
  • Jealous competitors
  • Substantial inbound lead traffic to see what experts say on an important trend (thanks to your social media outbound and your media pitching—and perhaps that of your client as well)

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Bullseye! 3 Quick Tips to Hit Your Target Audience

Bullseye! 3 Quick Tips to Hit Your Target Audience

Looking to take your new start-up idea to the next level? Whether you’re a veteran entrepreneur or just a genius with yet another brilliant idea, your relationship with your consumer will be the key to a successful new project. Regardless of the purpose of your new & revolutionary idea, identifying, finding, and understanding who your ideal consumer is will make all the difference in your newest business venture. Featuring the experienced advice from start-up tycoon David Payne, co-founder of Switchyards, here are 3 Quick Tips on getting looks from the people who matter: your target audience.

Think Big, Start Small.
Before you can appeal to the masses, you’ll need to make sure you’re even appealing to begin with. In the midst of all the excitement of your brand-new creation, it’s important to not get lost in your idea. Do yourself a huge favor and find a small group of supporters who absolutely LOVE your idea and use their critique to hone your concept. “Your idea is probably guaranteed to not be right the first time,” said Payne in an interview. Starting a small focus group lets you pick the brains of those who will become your target audience. If enough people aren’t engaging, try spending time with fewer customers. Keep in mind; the purpose of a new-idea often revolves around a common problem. Be sure to fall in love with that problem and not your solution. This way, you’ll be ready and willing to switch it up a bit if necessary.

Build an online presence.
Google search results are your new best friend. In addition to a cool website and interactive social media accounts, there are a ton of ways to expand your brand to reach your desired audience. Just invented a cool, new app that lets you screen movie trailers on the go? Posting the link to the app in an online Film Club or a Facebook group for moviegoers is a great place to start! It’s okay to dream big, too. Try submitting your idea to be featured on a popular blog or website that shares your ultimate goal. Best-case scenario: you get a career-changing feature and make millions. Worst-case scenario: you’ll add one more person to the list of people that actually know what your product is. Sounds like a win/win!

Use your resources.
The last (and perhaps most important) rule of thumb for start-ups. No matter how many resources and contacts you’ve acquired, you’re just about guaranteed to have more than you actually think you do. This is where that entrepreneurship chip in your brain kicks in and grants you access to thinking outside of the box. Also, try and join a start-up community, such as Switchyards. Asserting yourself into an entrepreneurial environment is bound to spark marketing ideas & establish business relationships that you’ll need in the future! Pick the brain of every person you meet, and use the data you collect to relate to your target audience. Take polls, give surveys, and LISTEN to the consumer’s needs. Once you’ve covered your bases, you’re bound to develop a grand-slam start-up!

Ashley Vance is a versatile writer and digital content developer with a pen for new media trends. Anticipating a Journalism degree in May of 2016, her studies of digital media and creative writing have merged to ignite a passion for copy-writing and the art of social media management. Born & raised in Atlanta, Ga, her hobbies include writing, watching B-list movies, and attending live shows featuring musicians she’s never heard of. A shameless sports enthusiast, Ashley lives by the famous Babe Ruth quote, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

#1 Way to Lose Readers in No Time

#1 Way to Lose Readers in No Time
By Ghost Partner, originally posted via email newsletter
So you’ve followed our lead, done your research, made notes on our tips and tricks, and written a well-crafted article for your newsletter. DON’T HIT SEND JUST YET. There’s one more critical step. Neglecting this step is a surefire way to lose readers — and your reputation.

Proofread. Then proofread again. Then ask someone else to proofread. And maybe someone else, just to be on the safe side.

Why so cautious? Nothing screams amateur like an article rife with typos, grammar gaffes, and inconsistencies. And don’t fall for fallacies such as, But my audience doesn’t care about that kind of thing; they just care if my company does our job right.
Actually, you’d be surprised. Your newsletter represents your organization. If you produce error-filled articles, readers may (and often do) wonder about your attention to detail in other areas of your business. How careful are you in your operations? Is your billing system accurate?
Don’t risk your company’s image by skipping over careful proofreading.
Proofreading actually involves a few steps:
  • Read over the article for obvious typos, missing punctuation, and formatting inconsistencies (e.g., spacing). Spell check, by the way, only checks for incorrectly spelled words; it does not catch correctly spelled words that are used incorrectly, like “steak” when you meant “stake.”
  • Look for mistakes in grammar. Some of the more common include incorrect or inconsistent verb tense usage; words that are commonly confused or misused (“their” vs, “they’re”; “your” vs. “you’re”; “its” vs. “it’s”); and confusing the possessive form of nouns or pronouns with the plural form. Not a grammar guru? Take a look at this article and this article for some common grammar red flags.
  • If grammar really isn’t your bag and there’s no grammar genius at your company, consider using grammar checking software or apps.
  • Read your article backwards. It sounds weird, but it’s a good way to catch mistakes because it forces you to slow down your reading and pay closer attention.
  • Finally, read your article aloud to see how it sounds. If you use too many short sentences, for example, your article will sound stilted and choppy. To fix that, combine sentences here and there for variety in flow.
And here’s one last tip: either create a company style guide or follow one, like AP or MLA style. That way, you’ll have one reference source when questions arise.
You’ve spent a lot of time and effort on your article, so make sure it’s as polished as it can be by proofreading carefully. Your company’s image is on the line- E N G A G E  by  Ghost Partner

New Year, New Rules: The ACA, Small Business, and You

New Year, New Rules: The ACA, Small Business, and You

By Ples Bruce at the Growth Brain Group

By now everyone has heard something in the news or from a personal acquaintance about the Affordable Care Act. However, just in case you’ve had no contact with the outside world the last few years, here’s an overview of the basics.

The Affordable Care Act, whose official name is “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” and sometimes referred to as “ACA” was signed by President Obama in 2010. Since then the provisions of the Law have been implemented on a state-by-state level either through an expansion of Medicaid or the federal Marketplace, commonly known as Healthcare.gov.

In the world of ACA, a small business will be considered any employer with less than 50 employees. If you’re over 50 FTEs or Full-Time-Employees, you’ll have other nuances with ACA, however those will not be outlined here today.

As a business owner, these are the 5 Things You Must Know, because they all or in part have significant impact on your business:

1.     ACA will affect your Taxes, so consult your tax attorney or CPA to discuss your specific situation. Just know that the ACA law has a Carrot and Stick approach to healthcare reform and there will be both challenges and opportunities.

2.     Employers who are not providing Health Insurance options for their employees may find that ACA provides an opportunity to offer a valued perk to employees, which is always helpful for recruitment and retention of key personnel.

3.     A number of small businesses will be able to qualify for Premium subsidies and/or tax credits in S.H.O.P., so ensure you have a conversation with your CPA sooner than later. You could be leaving a significant amount of money on the table

4.     There are specific dates and deadlines outlined in ACA for business owners, which carry many possible penalties and fines. Be aware that there are some minefields you will be able to avoid if you have a knowledgeable ACA licensed agent on your team.

5.     S.H.O.P. also known as Small Business Healthcare Options Program is the part of ACA designed for small businesses and non-profits. It’s important to know exactly where you are on the ACA ladder. You can find a FTE calculator and other helpful S.H.O.P. information at http://ACASHOP.growthbrain.com.

While ACA has its many supporters and detractors, no one has a crystal ball to see the future. However, understanding the best opportunities ACA presents for your specific goals and objective and leveraging the Law to your best advantage, may be the best strategy to pursue.

Starting Off Right

Starting Off Right

Well, it’s 2016 and aside from trying to remember the date change on all your paperwork, a new year usually brings a slew of resolutions for every new small business owner. Are you hoping to grow revenue, hire new employees, relocate your business? These are the types of questions you’re likely asking yourself right now and these are great! Here are some tips for helping you focus your resolutions for 2016.

Look at the numbers
When setting goals, it’s always good to take a look at what you’ve already achieved so that you have a good baseline to start from. With a business, that often means looking at the numbers. It’s not the sexiest part of running a business, but pulling out your Balance Sheet and Cash Flow can really helping you get a realistic grasp on where you are, and where you can go in 2016.

Be Realistic
Business owners are notoriously optimistic people, and that’s one of the traits that make us such amazing people. But too much optimism can sometimes be deflating if it isn’t tempered by a little realism. It’s great to set stretch goals, but make sure you also sprinkle in a lot of more realistically attainable goals. These will be the Scooby Snacks that keep you moving forward on your way to your bigger goals.

Step Up
One of the key ways to attain your goals is to make sure there are definable action steps you can do everyday to ensure that you’re staying on track. This is especially important with large goals that can take a lot of time to achieve. Make sure you know what you can do everyday to get there.

These are just a few ways you can develop stronger, more attainable and actionable goals for 2016. If you’d like more help, be sure to schedule an appointment with your SBDC Business Consultant to flesh out your goals for 2016.