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Small Business Management and small business topics
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    We support America's small businesses. The SBA connects entrepreneurs with lenders and funding to help them plan, start and grow their business.

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  • 05/31/19--10:56: Jame Knowln

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    You’ve seen article after article telling you why you should implement a CRM, but the last thing you need right now is another piece of software to learn.

    CRM — or customer relationship management — refers to software that tracks interactions with prospects and customers. But do you actually need to be using a CRM, if you’ve been getting by without one?

    Ultimately, the choice is yours. If you’re on the fence, here are the reasons why you don’t need a CRM.

    Why You Don’t Need a CRM

    1. You don’t want your contact data kept in one central location.

    Image Source: Giphy

    You might be asking yourself, "Can’t I just manage all of my customer data in an Excel spreadsheet and call it a day?"

    Yes, you certainly can.

    If you enjoy spending your precious time hunting through spreadsheets, emails, and paper trails to find all of your customer data, you definitely don’t need a CRM.

    A CRM provides a full, accurate record of a rep’s entire interaction history with a prospect that’s accessible with one click. Using a CRM would give your team a central location to access pertinent customer data to make smarter, more informed sales decisions.

    2. You don’t want every interaction with a customer to be logged automatically.

    Image Source: Giphy

    I’m sure your customers love answering the same questions repeatedly throughout the sales process, just as much as you love digging through your handwritten notes from each call trying to remember what the heck you talked about last time.

    Having accurate, detailed records of each customer interaction that anyone on your team can reference and use to drive sales is a known side effect of using a CRM.

    3. You don’t want communication across your organization to improve.

    Image Source: Giphy

    In addition to making life easier for individual reps, CRM systems also improve communication at the organizational level — and who wants that?

    Without having a CRM on hand to provide detailed records, reps can blindly take over each other’s territories as they work out of the same indecipherable spreadsheets with inconsistent data management.

    By not using a CRM, reps can’t immediately assess what’s already been done with a given prospect or see what’s next. When activity recording is inconsistent, passing a lead from one rep to another becomes more challenging, and causes leads to leak through your funnel.

    Your reps will need to piece together the interaction history of their prospects, which is a great use of their time as opposed to, you know, selling.

    4. You don’t want to improve synergy with your marketing organization.

    Image Source: Giphy

    Isn’t having a major disconnect with your marketing organization the best?

    Instead of knowing how marketing has engaged with leads before you hop on a sales call, continue working without a CRM, not having any background information about who the lead is or why they are interested in your product.

    5. You aren’t interested in growing your business.

    Image Source: Giphy

    If making more money serving more customers isn’t of interest to you, definitely hold off on using a CRM. With one or two or five customers, manually tracking every interaction is doable. To keep business small, by all means, continue manually tracking.

    Since you don’t want to triple or quadruple revenue in the years ahead, having your salespeople spend all their time recording prospect and customer information is no big deal.

    Using a CRM, on the other hand, would empower you to analyze your salespeople’s activities to discover what outreach strategies or series of touchpoints work the best, helping your team close more deals overall.

    6. You don’t want to save time by automating your business processes.

    Image Source: Giphy

    You’re working out of multiple systems to keep in touch with leads — email, live chat, phone — and spend a great deal of time moving from one system to another and manually recording notes from each touchpoint.

    If you enjoy spending your time working in various systems and don’t want any of those systems to work with one another, definitely don’t get a CRM.

    A CRM offers integration touchpoints that allow the various systems you work with to communicate with one another, offering easy hands-off automation for your key business processes.

    7. You don’t want to serve your customers better.

    Image Source: Giphy

    Using a CRM would give you access to valuable customer trends and information, which you just aren’t interested in.

    Having access to detailed customer information could help reps understand previous interactions customers have had with your company, helping them be more prepared for their calls and pitches.

    8. You enjoy struggling to keep up with lead flow.

    Image Source: Giphy

    Business is booming, and you have more leads than you know what to do with. By not using a CRM, you can keep a steady stream of leads falling through the cracks because reps don’t have the bandwidth, data, or tools they need to follow up with them in a timely manner.

    On the other hand, a CRM can capture your leads and help reps prioritize them so they can reach out at the right point of the sales process, improving their chances of making the sale.

    9. You enjoy manual reporting.

    Image Source: Giphy

    Pouring over manual reports each week that are harder to pull than a tooth is by far your favorite part of the week.

    If you were using a CRM, you could go to your dashboard and pull the reports you need with greater accuracy and consistency at the click of a button. But again, who wants that?

    10. You’d be using a product that’s completely free, forever.

    Image Source: Giphy

    Think a piece of software this powerful has to cost a fortune? Think again.

    The free HubSpot CRM offers time-saving tools that will benefit your entire team. HubSpot CRM is easy to use and gives you full visibility of your sales pipeline with up-to-the-minute data. In addition to contact management, you can enjoy features such as meeting scheduling, email templates, live chat, and more on an interface that’s free, forever.

    There you have it, 10 reasons why you don’t need a CRM for your organization. Ultimately, there’s a very simple question you should ask yourself if you’re considering a CRM: Do you want to grow your business?

    Your ability to do so is dependent on contacting your prospects at the right intervals and providing them relevant information at the right time, and you simply can't do this effectively without a CRM.

    Ready to flip the switch? Check out HubSpot's free CRM today.


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    Picture this — you’re at a major conference connecting with leads left and right. At the end of a stellar conversation with an executive whose company is the ideal fit for your product they hand you their business card and tell you to keep in touch.

    Cue the record scratch — business card? In 2020? Yes, you heard that correctly.

    Even with 2020 around the corner, business cards are still in circulation. At the end of an interaction at a loud or busy event, simply handing out a card with contact information can be an easier way to keep in touch than fumbling with your phone to connect on LinkedIn in real-time.

    But the downside to receiving a physical business card is it can be easy to lose, and you have to remember to record the contact’s information in your database manually unless you have a business card scanner that can record your contact’s information for you.

    Next time someone hands you a business card, be prepared with one of these scanner apps to turn your business card contacts into digital contacts instantly.

    Here’s everything you need to know about the 10 best business card scanner apps to use in 2020.

    1. HubSpot Business Card Scanner

    • Price: Free
    • Best for: Turning business cards into CRM contacts
    • iOS | Android
    HubSpot Business Card ScannerThis free business card scanner app integrates seamlessly with HubSpot CRM. The app uses machine learning to accurately record business card data you scan to match necessary CRM property fields, helping you spend less time on manual entry and maintenance and more time connecting with your customers.

    2. ScanBizCards

    • Price: Free for individuals or $100 per year for a team subscription (up to 50 users)
    • Best for: Capturing B2B leads at events
    • iOS | Android
    ScanBizCards

    Image Source: ScanBizCards

    ScanBizCards is designed to help you capture qualified B2B leads at events and conferences. You can scan business cards and conference badges and export the data to your CRM. Additional features include email signature capture, which allows you to update your contact list directly from email and address book sync, so your contact list is always up to date.

    3. Haystack

    Haystack Digital Business Cards

    Image Source: Haystack

    In addition to offering an unlimited business card scanner within the app, Haystack’s free plan allows you and your team to create digital business cards that can be shared with anyone, instantly. When you upgrade to a paid plan, you can unlock features such as CRM integration, custom vanity URLs (so you can send contacts a branded link), and analytics.

    4. iCapture

    iCapture Badge Scanner

    Image Source: iCapture

    If you frequently represent your company at expo events or perform product demos, iCapture was designed to make your life easier. Within the app, there is an effective badge scanner that provides real-time data retrieval of barcodes, QR codes, and RFID. There is also a business card scanner function that is automatically transcribed, saving you time on manual entry while you’re working at busy events.

    5. Microsoft OneNote

    Image Source: Microsoft

    Use your phone’s camera to quickly capture and store business card information kept on the go within Microsoft OneNote. This app and web application is great for Microsoft Office users who like to store their notes and contact information in one place.

    6. Evernote

    Evernote Business Card Scanner Image Source: Evernote

    Chances are you're familiar with Evernote as a popular digital note-taking app — but did you know there is also a business card camera built-in? This premium Evernote feature captures the name, title, company, and contact information listed on the card. You can then use the stored entries to call, email, or text from within Evernote.

    7. ABBYY Business Card Reader

    • Price: Free
    • Best for: Multilingual business card scanning
    • iOS | Android | Web
    ABBYY Business Card Reader

    Image Source: ABBYY

    The ABBYY Business Card Reader app helps you convert physical business cards to digital contacts in just one tap. You can easily sync your business card contact data across all of your devices. Bonus: the app can scan text from 25 languages, and can even support multilingual cards with up to three languages on one single card making it perfect for those who work with international prospects.

    8. CamCard

    CamCard Business Card Scanner

    Image Source: CamCard

    Within CamCard, you can customize your business card records by adding notes and setting reminders to follow up with your contacts. They also have a tagging feature that makes your contact records easy to find and update.

    9. CardHQ

    • Price: Free
    • Best for: Quick and easy scanning
    • iOS | Android
    CardHQ Business Card Scanner

    Image Source: CardHQ

    CardHQ is a straightforward business card scanner app that can quickly scan and store contact information for easy retrieval. Notable features include one-touch instant search, which saves you time looking for contacts, and text detection for scanning accuracy.

    10. Sansan

    Sansan Business Card Scanner

    Image Source: Sansan

    Sansan’s scanner app was designed to streamline business card contact management for large companies. If you’re looking for an enterprise solution for turning physical business cards into digital contacts, SanSan allows teams to scan and upload contacts to the cloud, allowing each company to create an organized database for the entire team.

    Don’t get caught unprepared when a contact hands you a business card. As you gear up for your next conference, check out this post to help you get the most out of your next event.


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    As a sales professional, how would you describe yourself? Would you use terms such as "pushy," "annoying," or "aggressive?" Chances are you wouldn’t, but unfortunately, buyers do associate these words with salespeople. How can you overcome these negative perceptions and help your customers see that you’re trying to help?

    By exhibiting ethical behavior and selling with integrity.

    One of the greatest obstacles to upholding sales ethics is taking a "sales by any means necessary" approach. However, cutting corners with customers during the sales process doesn’t result in greater returns. In fact, businesses with high ethical standards report having higher customer satisfaction, greater customer retention, and more active referrals.

    Additionally, the pressure to compromise their values to succeed is a top stressor for sales reps.

    Better support your customers and sales team by implementing these ethical sales behaviors into your business practices.

    Sales Ethics

    1. Foster trust and credibility with the customer.

    To create a positive experience for both the customer and the company, it is imperative that trust-building is at the center of every sales interaction. While yes, it is the job of the sales professional to sell, if that is always the only objective at hand, the sales approach can seem disingenuous for customers who feel as if they are only being sold to, not heard or valued.

    Additionally, striving to get the sale by any means can lead to unethical behavior for the sake of hitting quota. When interacting with prospects and customers, reps should strive to build trust first and sell second.

    Here are some ways reps can build trust with their customers:

    • Social proof — Share truthful testimonials and anecdotes from other happy customers.
    • Share credible data — Take a data-driven approach to help customers and make interactions less subjective. Provide credible third-party research or data to back up your points so your customers feel they can trust your expertise.
    • Be mindful of nonverbal communication — When speaking with customers in person, maintain natural eye contact to convey trustworthiness and confidence. Try to keep eye contact to no more than seven to 10 seconds at a time. Staring intensely can make others feel uncomfortable.
    • Ask open-ended questions — Take a genuine interest in your customer’s concerns by asking them questions that cannot be answered with a "yes" or "no." Asking thoughtful questions (i.e. "Can you tell me about your experience with your last vendor? What worked? What didn’t?") to better understand your customer’s experience demonstrates genuine concern that fosters trust.

    2. Be accountable.

    If a problem arises and you were at fault, quickly and truthfully take responsibility. While it may be tempting to defer responsibility to save face, being accountable for your actions and offering a solution to remedy the situation is a more ethical approach.

    Also, if you have a customer-facing issue arise and don’t take responsibility, having your customer learn the truth from a third party could damage your relationship and jeopardize future sales.

    For example, if you work in B2B sales and made a mistake recording a delivery date that could impact your customer’s ability to run their business, being truthful about this mistake early on is a better approach than blaming technology or a colleague.

    3. Share clear, truthful information.

    When trying to convince a prospect to invest in your product or service, it is critical you only present honest information. Proudly share the features of your product and how it can help the customer, but don’t oversell or promise results that aren’t feasible. Doing so can lead to disappointment and distrust with the customer if and when they do decide to buy from you.

    Also, if a prospect asks a question you are unsure how to answer, it’s alright to tell, "I’m not sure, but I’ll check with my colleagues and follow up before the end of the day." Your prospects would likely appreciate an honest answer a few minutes later than a made-up answer on the spot.

    4. Provide fair competitive comparisons.

    Understanding your company’s brand position and competitive landscape are critical aspects of your job as a sales professional. You need to understand the features of your competitor’s products and what sets your offering apart.

    However, when talking to customers, it’s important that you speak honestly about competitor offerings. Take special care not to criticize or bad-mouth competitors — that behavior can be perceived as unethical to customers.

    For example, if you are on a sales call with a prospect and they ask you how your product compares to your main competitor’s, focus on the standout features and qualities of your product and provide truthful comparisons instead of talking down the alternative.

    5. Address problems head-on.

    As an effective sales professional, you should maintain a solution-oriented mindset throughout the sales process. Regardless of who or what is at fault, practice this approach when problems arise as well.

    Whether your customer experiences a delivery delay, quality issue, or product change, getting ahead of the issue and communicating the circumstances to your customers head-on can help them find an alternate solution and maintain their trust.

    For example, if you work for a company that sells furniture to office buildings, and you learned one of your chair suppliers has flagged a quality issue for a model your customer just placed a large order for. Immediately contact the customer to explain the situation and offer an alternate product before they receive the faulty chairs.

    6. Follow through on commitments to the customer.

    This point is simple. If a commitment is made to your prospect or customer, it needs to be kept. Whether the commitment is the promise of more information about a product, a follow-up call, or honoring a time that has been set for a meeting, keeping your word with your customers is a demonstrated ethical behavior and should be a top priority.

    7. Take objections in stride.

    Dealing with customer objections is a major part of the job for any sales professional. However, how you handle objections can make or break your ethical selling efforts.

    Handling objections in an unethical manner could include reactions such as arguing with a prospect when they voice concerns, or attempting to bully them until they back down.

    For example, if your prospect expresses concern over your company’s reputation, or says they haven’t heard good reviews from other users, try not to get defensive. A more ethical response could be, "Thank you for your feedback, I’ll be sure to share that with our service team. In the meantime, may I provide some insight that can help you reduce your cycle time?"

    Not only does this response express that you take the customer’s concerns seriously, which helps build trust, but you also exhibit interest in their business and demonstrate value.

    8. Lead by example.

    Last, but certainly not least, the most important thing sales managers can do to uphold ethics is to exhibit ethical behaviors themselves.

    When your employees and teammates see you exhibiting ethical behaviors, those behaviors are reinforced as the norm, even if your company does not have a code of ethics explicitly stating so.

    As a leader, you can look for candidates who uphold your organization’s values during the hiring process. You should also foster an open environment where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and sharing feedback.

    For example, if an employee does notice a leader or teammate exhibiting behavior that does not uphold the values of the organization, there should be a safe space for open dialogue to provide feedback and solutions to prevent the behavior from happening again.

    Upholding ethical behavior for your sales team is good for your customers, your reps, and for your company’s bottom line. Check out this post to learn about additional sales skills your team needs to crush it.


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    In a world filled with sales reps trying to make quota, the same goal remains: close the sale. Yes, as a sales professional, your job is ultimately to sell. However, what if selling for the sake of selling wasn’t your main mission?

    Enter value-based selling.

    The goal with a value-based selling approach is to put the needs of the customer first, guiding them through the sales process to make an informed decision to best suit their needs (ideally, leading to the purchase of your product). This creates anticipation for the positive result having your product will provide in the mind of the customer.

    For many prospects, they are bombarded with messages pressuring them to buy. Stand out from the competition and create long-term happy customers by providing more value than anyone else.

    Principles of Value-Based Selling

    1. Do your homework.

    Remember, the goal of value-based selling is to close the sale by putting the needs of your prospect first. However, you can’t put your prospect’s needs first if you don’t know what their needs are. Before hopping on a sales call, it is critical you do your homework to understand your contact.

    When researching a prospect, aim to understand their company and industry (particularly relevant in B2B sales), background, and current pain points. By understanding these pieces of information, you’ll be armed with a good idea of how to be of service to them.

    Here is some information you may want to consider looking for as you prepare for your call:

    • Their current role and previous job experience — A simple LinkedIn search can help you learn about your prospect’s career history. Are they new to their current role? This may mean they are still in the learning phase and could benefit from learning from you. Is this their first time making this type of purchasing decision or have they been in similar roles? If they have experience in this area, they may be more interested in expediting the process, so you can better serve them with efficiency.
    • Common connections — If you have a common connection with a prospect, that can help you build trust with them faster. Additionally, the contact could help provide key insights to the prospect’s pain points and how you could provide value to them.
    • Content shared on social media — If your prospect has a public Twitter or Facebook profile, checking out what content they have recently shared or engaged with can give you an idea as to what is currently important to them.
    • Their company’s website, press, and social media pages — This will tell you if their company has undergone any recent leadership changes, is releasing a new product, or has been in the news.
    • Their contact listing in your CRM — Before hopping on the phone with your prospect, check out their profile in your CRM. This will tell you if and when any of your colleagues have engaged with them, and what content from your company they have opened or engaged with.

    Additionally, performing a simple Google search for their company’s competitors will give you a great deal of information about their industry landscape.

    2. Don’t jump into your sales pitch too early.

    Resist the temptation to dive into your sales pitch as soon as you get your prospect on the line. Though during the research phase you learned a great deal about their perspective, nothing beats hearing directly from your prospect themselves.

    Before convincing them to make the sale with a generic pitch, give them space to explain their current situation and what they are looking for. In addition to helping you build trust with the prospect, not jumping immediately into your pitch can give you more insight into how you can best provide value to them and can help you position your product better for the sale.

    3. Communicate how your product provides value to the customer.

    If your prospect didn’t have a problem they were trying to solve or a need to fulfill, they wouldn’t be in the market for a new product. It sounds obvious but in order to help the customer understand why your product is the solution to their problem you have to understand and be able to clearly articulate why your product is the solution to their problem.

    As you look to sell, make sure the benefits of your product are easy-to-understand and relevant to your prospect. For example:

    • Is your product designed to reduce cycle time and improve productivity for those who use it?
    • Does your company offer free training that will help customers quickly get up-to-speed after they have made their purchase?
    • Does the purchase of your product include free automatic updates for customers to make their jobs easier?

    Whatever those unique differentiators are for your offering, make sure they are aligned with the needs of the customer and use these points to guide your sales conversations.

    4. Focus on teaching instead of selling.

    One of the most effective ways to provide value to your prospects and customers is to help educate them on a topic of interest. When you take an education-first approach, you become their go-to resource for information which helps you build trust. Once trust is established, when the prospect is ready to buy, your offering is far more appealing because you have already demonstrated value instead of pushing the sale without any proof of value for the buyer.

    For example, if you work in software sales, instead of running through a recycled sales pitch with a prospect you can first contact them asking what their top three challenges are. Then during your meeting instead of talking at them with slides, you can walk them through possible solutions they could take to solve their challenges in an informative, engaging way.

    5. Guide the prospect through the buying process.

    When taking a value-based approach, your role as a sales professional is to act as a consultant helping your prospect make the most informed purchasing decision. Share fresh ideas and strategies that can help your prospect improve their own competitive positioning avoiding the temptation to tell the prospect what to do.

    For example, if your prospect asks if they should take an action that you would typically not recommend, share a real-life example of how taking said action resulted in a setback for another buyer. This helps your prospect maintain their position in the driver’s seat for their buying decision and helps you convey your message in an honest, helpful manner.

    6. Keep a personable approach.

    As you embark on value-based selling make sure you keep a conversational, personable tone when engaging with your prospects. This shows you have a genuine interest in them and are not merely talking at them to make the sale. Here are a few tips to help you keep things conversational:

    • Ask open-ended questions — All of the questions you ask your prospect should be for the sake of genuinely getting to know them, and they should all require answers that require some explanation. Aim to not ask questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."
    • Master the art of small talk — While small talk may be the bain of every introvert’s existence, there’s no denying it can be a powerful tool for building trust with your prospect. When in doubt, asking about their professional interests and responsibilities, or upcoming events they are planning or attending can be effective go-to topics.
    • Speak as if you’re talking to a friend — Ultimately, you want the prospect to feel like they are receiving advice from a trusted advisor. Deliver your content the way you would deliver it to a friend to keep it personable and relatable.

    If you’re looking for some helpful conversation starters, this post is full of great tips and examples.

    7. Add value during every interaction.

    Last but certainly not least, make sure you add value each time you engage with your prospect to continue building trust and creating a long-term positive experience. You want them to feel heard and supported each time they interact with you.

    This could look like making sure you leave plenty of time to answer their questions in each meeting, not interrupting them when speaking, or even sharing helpful articles or content that is relevant to their business even when you aren’t actively engaged in a sales conversation. The small steps you take to make your prospect’s job easier can pay dividends in the long run.

    The next time you approach a prospect, ask yourself "How can I provide as much value as possible?" The positive result may surprise you. For more advice to help you be a stronger seller, check out these actionable one-sentence sales tips.


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    What does BANT stand for?

    The acronym BANT stands for:

    Budget: How much is the prospect able and willing to spend?

    Authority: Who is the ultimate decision maker?

    Need: Does the prospect have a problem your product can solve?

    Timing: Is there urgency?

    What is BANT?

    BANT is a sales qualification methodology that lets salespeople determine whether a prospect is a good fit based on their budget, internal influence/ability to buy, need for the product, and purchase timeline.

    How NOT to use BANT

    BANT has fallen out of favor recently, but it’s not just the methodology -- it’s also how you use it. fails when salespeople use it like a checklist, meaning they ask prospects a series of rote questions without truly listening to their response or attempting to add value.

    Here’s an example:

    Rep: “Do you have a budget set aside for this?”

    Prospect: “Not yet, but it should be finalized on Tuesday.”

    Rep: “Great. And who will be signing off on this deal?”

    Prospect: “My manager Sheila.”

    Rep: “And you’ll be using Spartan to organize customer events around the country, which currently you do not have software for. It seems like your current system is hard to manage and scale.”

    Prospect: “Yes, that’s correct.”

    Rep: “Is there a specific date you’d like to have a solution in place for?”

    Prospect: “Probably sometime in the spring.”

    Rep: “Okay, great. I think the next step is arranging a demo between you and an events specialist -- what do you think?”

    Prospect: “I’d like to look around a bit more first … I’ll shoot you an email in a few weeks.”

    The salesperson is never going to hear from that prospect again.

    So what went wrong?

    First, this was an interrogation, not a two-way dialogue. No one enjoys being quizzed. Unfortunately, BANT often causes reps to stick to a memorized list rather than asking questions that build on each other.

    Second, the rep missed several opportunities to dig deeper. They didn’t learn anything about the decision maker, Sheila; the budget approval process; or the reason for a spring implementation.

    To use BANT successfully, think of it as a concept rather than a to-do list. You need to qualify on all four characteristics, but you don’t need to do them in a particular order or way. In fact, you should change your approach every time to fit the prospect.

    BANT Lead Qualification Questions

    Budget

    • What do you currently spend now on this problem or need?
    • We’ve calculated your team is losing X amount per [week, quarter, year] on this problem. How does that compare to the budget you’ve set aside?
    • We’ve calculated your team could potentially gain X amount per [week, quarter, year] by making this [change, investment]. How does that compare to the budget you’ve set aside?
    • Whose budget is this coming out of?
    • How much would it cost to build the system by yourself?
    • How much would it cost if you haven’t fixed this issue in five years?
    • How heavily will price factor into the decision?
    • Have you identified a budget range for this purchase?
    • What’s the ROI you’re hoping to see?

    Authority

    • Who will be using the product?
    • What was the last time you bought a similar product? How did the decision making process go?
    • This is normally the stage where my customer brings in [the head of Finance, the other stakeholders, their manager] to [discuss X, get their perspective on Y]. Do you want to invite [Z person/people] to our next meeting?
    • Will anyone else be involved in this decision?

    Need

    • When did you identify [problem, opportunity]?
    • What steps have you already taken to address it?
    • How important is addressing this to your personal goals at [company]? Career goals? Your department’s?
    • What are your top priorities at the moment? Where does this fit on that list?
    • What happens if you don’t address this?

    Timing

    • Are there any upcoming events/deadlines that you’d like to have a solution in place by?
    • Are you planning any [insert relevant project here, i.e. lead generation campaign, major hiring spree, program overhauls, etc.)?
    • What’s your [lead generation, revenue, retention, etc.] goal for [next quarter, half of the year]? Will you be able to meet that goal without some sort of change?
    • Working backward from the date you gave me, we’d need to finalize our agreement by [earlier date]. Is that sound doable?

    Jacco Van der Kooj argues there are a couple challenges with using BANT in today’s world.

    1. Don't view budget as a blocker.

    First, if you use a subscription model, budget probably isn’t a blocker for most companies. In the old days, when reps were selling licenses, it made sense to qualify on financial need.

    But now, most SaaS companies charge anywhere from $50 to tens of thousands of dollars per month (at the very high end). With the ROI your customers will see, price shouldn’t be a huge obstacle.

    (Of course, that doesn’t apply if you’re in a different field -- like pharma sales, real estate, and so on.)

    2. Map out who's involved.

    The second problem with BANT: Most decisions are now made by a group rather than one person. There’s an average of 6.8 stakeholders involved in every deal. Even if one person signs the contract, you need to convince the majority of their team.

    Map out everyone who is involved in the process: Their job titles, decision making role, priorities, and how you can get access to them (asking your champion to set up a meeting, reaching out to them directly. etc.) The more contacts you have, the more control you’ll wield -- and the less chance this opportunity will slip through your fingers.

    3. Identify the importance of the problem.

    Instead of identifying the prospect’s budget, figure out how important this problem is to them. Are they highly motivated to solve it? What happens if they don’t? Is there a different initiative they care about more that will compete for their energy, attention, and decision making capital?

    Willingness to act can often be a better indicator of fit than budget.

    4. Discover how quickly their organization moves.

    You know the urgency of their need and who the decision makers are, but how quickly does their organization make decisions?

    Identifying whether you're looking at months of red tape and approvals or a simple one-pitch-and-a-close type deal can help you plan your pipeline and prepare for the close.

    BANT has lasted through the ages because it’s effective (when used correctly), memorable, and applicable to a range of products, price points, and sales processes. Adapt it to your situation, then ruthlessly target the best fits.

    Want to up your sales game even more? Evolve your BANT strategy to include this new framework for qualifying prospects.


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    Take a look at the two sales proposals below. If you had to send one to a client right now, which one would you choose?

    example sales proposal

    Image source: SocialMediaProposal.com

    catering service proposal example

    Image source: PandaDoc

    If you’re leaning towards the one on the bottom, you’re not alone.

    Nothing is certain in this life except death, taxes, and that every client in the world would prefer to receive the sales proposal on the right. Here’s why:

    The sales proposal on the right looks nicer because it employs the design principles of balance, emphasis, and scale.

    Never heard of ‘em? That’s alright with us.

    We’re going to break down these three design principles for you. Our end goal is simply to empower you and your sales team to tactfully apply them in some way, shape, or form the next time you create a contract and get it signed.

    Fire up ye olde Netflix and stream The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, because we're getting artsy-fartsy up in here.

    Balance

    Images in your design carry weight. Of course, we can’t physically feel how heavy they are, we’re talking about visual weight. To keep things balanced, think of your document as a playground and your design as a seesaw. If one side is too heavy, it’ll pull the reader’s eye directly to that heavy part.

    The image below is a perfect example of this.

    an example of balance in design

    Image source: Visme

    In the “before” design, the seesaw is unbalanced. All of the weight is on the right side of the page, and the guy on the left is hardly noticeable.

    In the “after” design, the seesaw is balanced. It’s living its best life in seesaw equilibrium. It isn’t tipping one way or another because the visual weight of the images is the same on both sides.

    Got it? Good. Although, the documents you’ll be designing will probably include fewer people and more words, so let’s see what that looks like.

    balance in a document with text

    Image source: PandaDoc

    This is the grown-up version of our seesaw example. It goes on wine tastings, just refinanced its student loans, and never runs out of toilet paper. It also knows that balance can be achieved through asymmetry.

    Wait, what?” you ask, “Isn’t asymmetry the opposite of what we just talked about?

    Short answer: No.

    Asymmetrical images are the opposite of mirror images, they move beyond the concept of visual weight. Instead of seeing a reflection of weight (like we did in the first example) you see something that evenly distributes elements, like color, size, thickness, or white space.

    This means that the visual weight of three smaller objects can offset the weight of one larger object. For instance, if a mama panda were sitting on one end of a seesaw, her weight would be offset if her three baby pandas sat on the other end. This is because balance with asymmetry has been achieved.

    In the visual above, think of the broad stretch of ocean with text as the mama panda, and the two umbrellas and shady tree-lined boardwalk above as her babies. The brighter colors and use of shading carry more weight than lighter colors, which is why the image still looks balanced even though water and text take up more real estate on the page.

    Emphasis

    (Featuring Bob)

    You want to grab your client’s attention the second they open your document.

    Our second design principle is pretty self-explanatory. In fact, it’s something you’ve probably used before in the form of bold text, underlined headings, or italicized quotes. You can easily make your point with words, but how do you emphasize the importance of an image?

    The example below should answer that question.

    an example of emphasis in design

    Image source: Visme

    Adding emphasis to an image creates a focal point. It grabs your client’s attention and uses its outdoor voice to say, “Hey, look over here!” without overpowering the rest of the design (i.e., unbalancing the seesaw).

    Check out the guy in the “after” design, let’s call him Bob. He’s in the center. He’s a contrasting color. His arms are reaching for the sky. He is excited.

    He is your focal point.

    Now let’s visit the cool aunt version of the example above.

    example of emphasis in a sales proposal

    Image source: PandaDoc

    Here’s an example of emphasis that employs a few different techniques.

    If you’re in need of a quick way to emphasize a point within your design, it’s easy to cop to contrasting colors. They certainly do the job. Just look at our last example, the most striking difference between the “before” and “after” designs was coloring in Bob.

    But using contrast to draw emphasis to your design isn’t limited to just light vs. dark (value contrast). It can bleed over into contrast between hues, saturations, patterns, and textures, as we see in the cleaning proposal above.

    The emphasized point is the bright white tile with the bold circle, instead of the hazy blue tiles with thinner cleaning supply images. Your eye is drawn to the white, which is carried into the title of the proposal. Your client knows where to look in the document. We suggest you start workshopping a witty reply when they ask, “who’s your graphic designer?”

    Scale

    The old adage, “Size matters,” is still true. In the design corner of the world, size is king.

    Scale is the sizing of elements and is sometimes referred to as a standard of measurement.

    It’s a simple and effective way to draw greater attention to select images and text. It’s why I’ve chosen to use different font sizes in this article, and why headlines in a newspaper appear in larger fonts, too. Something to keep in mind when creating your next contract is that the larger the image or text, the stronger the message.

    Another element of scale is accurately sizing images. You might’ve heard the phrase “drawn to scale”. Not exactly sure what that means? The image below helps visualize the saying.

    an example of scale in design

    Image source: Visme

    Whales are not the same size as people.

    The “after” design corrects the depiction of human- to-whale ratio as seen in the “before” design, per the request of one insulted scuba diver.

    The fundamental takeaway from this principle is that a single object, no matter how large or small, or of human or whale variety, has scale until it is compared to another. Using multiple images allows us to create balance in the design and focus on dominant elements, in this case, the whale.

    proposal template shows scale

    Image source: PandaDoc

    Scale gives way to depict objects as larger than life, or bring a large object down to fit on a piece of paper.

    Take the image above, for example.

    The “brand” light within the bulb is the focus. Imagine if the “brand” text were smaller, the design wouldn’t be nearly as effective. The proposal text itself is even taking a back seat to the light bulb, a perfect example of using scale to draw focus.

    As a salesperson, your job isn’t to meticulously design every single document your organization uses. Your job is to get deals signed and meet revenue quotas.

    But, just because you’re focused on the green, doesn’t mean you can’t add some color to conversations with the creatives at your company and close more deals in the process.

    If you’re still holding onto the narrative that you suck at art and there’s no way you could ever design a good looking document, take a deep breath and ... KISS?

    “Keep it simple, stupid.” This sassy saying is loosely translated as ‘less is more’ in design speak. You can think you suck at art and feel like imposter Picasso while KISS-ing. In fact, the design principles of balance, emphasis, and scale support the very notion of keeping it simple.

    A single flower, a BIG word in the center of the page, or a bright pop of color is all you need to seal the deal with a KISS.

    By keeping balance, emphasis, and scale in mind, you can now look at a document’s layout and discern whether there’s an effective or ineffective use of design principles, and start sending contracts with style.

    At the end of the day, if you take away nothing at all from this article, always remember to: Seal the deal with a KISS

    Design a proposal that will close and integrate PandaDoc with HubSpot today.


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    Unless you’ve worked in manufacturing, chances are you may not be familiar with the principles of Lean management.

    Originating from the Toyota Production System — an impressive implementation of organizational and manufacturing improvements — the benefits of Lean extend far beyond the field of manufacturing. Sales teams can benefit from applying Lean principles as well.

    The five key principles of Lean are:

    • Identify value — Understanding what your customer needs and how your product serves them.
    • Map the value stream — An exercise to help you ensure value flows throughout your organization and processes.
    • Create flow — Maximize efficiencies and reduce waste in your organizational processes.
    • Establish pull — Considering customer consumption and how it relates to business operations.
    • Seek perfection — Focus on continuous improvement.

    Today, we’re going to focus on the second principle of Lean — mapping the value stream — and how it can benefit your sales team.

    When was the last time your organization evaluated your sales process to ensure it truly serves your customers and is as efficient as possible? If you aren’t sure or feel like your sales process needs a tune-up, your team could benefit from value stream mapping your sales process.

    First, let’s get crystal-clear on what value stream mapping is.

    By going through the value stream mapping process, your sales team can standardize your sales approach, allowing you to define and replicate the best process to land the sale. It is important to note that effective value stream mapping is a team effort. This is not an activity that should be done by one person alone — aim to have three to 10 people working on your value stream map to ensure your process improvement is thorough and complete.

    Now let’s walk through value stream mapping step-by-step.

    Value Stream Mapping Process

    1. Identify the process you want to improve.

    Begin by identifying the process you seek to improve. This is also the time to identify key stakeholders and roles and responsibilities to keep the activity on track.

    2. Define the objective and scope.

    Once the process has been selected, outline the objective of improving that process. For example, if your team chooses to optimize your sales process, make sure everyone understands why optimizing the sales process is important. A common objective for sales teams completing this exercise is to increase pipeline velocity (how quickly a lead moves through your pipeline).

    Additionally, you want to define the scope by understanding the specific start and endpoint of the process you want to optimize.

    3. Map out the current state of the process.

    Next, your team should document the process as-is. Using the sales process example, document how a lead enters your funnel, the touchpoints they have with your brand or sales team throughout the sales process (including handoffs), and all activities that lead up to making the sale.

    As you document each step, make sure you also indicate who is responsible and how long each task takes.

    4. Identify inefficiencies and areas of improvement.

    Now that you have documented your process’ current state, use a critical eye to identify areas of inefficiency or non-value-added activities also known in the world of Lean as "waste." Common sources of waste in sales include:

    • Defects — Providing incorrect, unclear, or outdated information to a prospect.
    • Overproduction — Over-communicating with a prospect to repeatedly gather information or clarify requests.
    • Waiting — Time spent waiting on answers or information from other areas of your company (including marketing, production, inventory) that impact your ability to share information with prospects in a timely manner.
    • Under-utilized talent — The amount of time sales reps spend on tasks that are not related to selling and engaging with prospects. This can include manually running processes, creating proposals, and looking for information.
    • Transportation — The area of sales doesn’t typically involve the transportation of parts or goods related to manufacturing. In sales, transportation waste can be equated to time wasted during the flow of information. For teams not using a CRM to automate and prioritize their communication efforts, there can be a great deal of transportation waste.
    • Inventory — As a sales rep, your deliverables to your prospects are considered your "inventory." This can include providing quotes, pricing information, and negotiation deliverables in a timely manner.
    • Motion — In Lean, motion waste occurs when more steps than necessary are taken to fulfill a task or statement of work. For your sales process, look for ways to expedite or automate tasks to improve motion such as setting up CRM integrations to reduce manual tasks.
    • Processing — This type of waste occurs when the same set of data or information is processed multiple times. Do you find you or your team have to input the same information in several places? Do you have to go to multiple sources to pull standard reporting data? If so, these are areas where processing waste can be eliminated or reduced.

    5. Map out the future state of the process.

    Once you have identified the areas of improvement, document the ideal future state improving the inefficiencies you outlined above.

    As you did when you outlined your current state, indicate how long each action will take using the improved process. This will help your team quantify time saved.

    6. Create an action plan for implementation.

    Now that you have your new and improved process mapped out, it’s time to implement. Create a realistic action plan your team can handle to make the new process a reality. It helps to have a project manager on hand to ensure implementation goes smoothly, and to keep stakeholders accountable.

    As you work through the value stream mapping process, familiarize yourself with the common symbols used.

    Value Stream Mapping Symbols

    Value stream mapping symbols

    1. Customer/supplier icon

    When placed at the upper left-hand corner of the value stream, this symbol represents the supplier. When placed in the upper right-hand corner, it represents the customer.

    2. Dedicated process flow icon

    This represents a single department, process, or operational machine a material flows through.

    3. Shared process icon

    A department, process, or operational machine that is shared by multiple value streams.

    4. Data box icon

    On a value stream, this symbol is placed under other icons in the system that require more data for analysis. For example, a data box could go below a detailed process flow icon to show CRM data reporting cycle time.

    5. Workcell icon

    This icon indicates multiple processes integrated together to improve the quality, speed, and cost of product creation.

    6. Inventory icon

    This symbol can represent inventory counts that need to take place within the value stream.

    7. Manual information icon

    This indicates the flow of information through written content that is not shared electronically.

    8. Electronic information icon

    When information is shared electronically through mediums such as email.

    9. Push arrow icon

    This icon represents material or product pushed from one process to the next.

    10. Verbal information icon

    The verbal information icon indicates the flow of information that is shared verbally.

    11. Kaizen burst icon

    A kaizen burst highlights problem areas on a value stream. It is designed to indicate areas of waste that can be improved to optimize the entire process.

    12. Other information icon

    Any additional information that doesn’t fit into the categories above can be communicated through the other information icon.

    At this point, we’ve covered the key steps and symbols you need to know to facilitate a value stream mapping exercise. Let’s put it all together with an example.

    Value Stream Mapping Example

    The enterprise sales team at a software company that makes digital marketing tools recently completed a value stream mapping exercise.

    When mapping out their current state, they realized, on average, each customer was being passed off to three different sales reps during their buyer journey. They also realized the handoff points were where they saw the greatest leaks in their sales funnel.

    By handing prospects off from sales rep to sales rep without sharing context or information each time, customers were having to repeat information. Additionally, the team realized they didn’t have a central system in place for managing customer data, so each rep was responsible for keeping their own records of customer interactions. This led to inconsistencies in their reporting and in the experience of each prospect.

    As the team mapped out their sales process’s future state, they outlined a new structure involving the implementation of a CRM. This helped them manage their data and serve as a single-source of information for reps. This would decrease the amount of time it took to make the sale because reps were spending less time hunting for data, and it resulted in smoother hand-offs because all reps had access to the same information.

    By implementing these improvements, the enterprise sales team was able to cut their average conversion time in half, while increasing their sales month over month. Because the improvements were so well-documented, they were able to share best practices that were easily implemented by their mid-market sales team as well.

    Value Stream Mapping Tools

    While some teams prefer to use pens, paper, and sticky notes to complete their value stream map, there are helpful digital tools available as well. Here are some value stream mapping tools to check out:

    1. Lucidchart

    Lucidchart value stream mapping

    Image Source: Getapp

    Lucidchart is a web-based collaborative platform that allows your team to create digital value stream maps. With helpful templates and drag-and-drop features, your team can improve processes quickly and easily. Lucidchart also integrates with HubSpot CRM through Zapier, so you can easily plug your CRM into your new and improved process.

    2. Microsoft Visio

    Microsoft Visio value steam mapping

    Image Source: Microsoft

    Part of the Microsoft Office Suite, Visio is a tried-and-true tool for creating flowcharts and value stream maps. With Office 365, anyone your team can access the web-based Visio application to build a robust value stream map.

    3. SmartDraw

    SmartDraw value stream mapping

    Image Source: SmartDraw

    SmartDraw is an easy-to-use drawing program that can be used to create comprehensive value stream maps. They also offer helpful templates and pre-made diagrams to help your team flow through the value stream map process, providing helpful tips and information if you get stuck.

    If you’re looking to improve your team’s processes for greater efficiency and increased sales, going through a value stream mapping exercise is an effective way to do so. Check out this post to learn more about your company’s value proposition.


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    Heading into a closing conversation with a prospect is always nerve-wracking. No matter how impressed they seemed during your demo or how enthusiastic your champion is, there's always a chance you'll lose to the competition, they'll decide to postpone their decision until next quarter, or they'll ask for a price you can't deliver.

    A "yes" or "no" hinges on far more than just the specific closing sentence or question.

    But as you've probably seen, using the right words can definitely make a difference. Read on to learn the closing phrases you should (and shouldn't) use.

    1. Do your research.

    You need to understand your company's offerings so you can find the products and services that will work best for the prospect you're working with. And throughout the sales process, do your research on the prospect's company. I

    Speak with the point of contact and with other people at the company in different departments to learn more. This will give you a clearer picture of how the company works and what its objectives are.

    2. Set expectations.

    Set expectations early in the sales process. And ask difficult questions about their budget, timeline, etc. before providing the prospect with something they want, like a demo or a trial. You'll qualify the prospect, build a genuine rapport with them, and earn their trust.

    3. Pitch the solution, not the product.

    When working with a prospect, you want to provide them with a holistic solution that fits their business' needs. Don't try to push a product on them that won't benefit them.

    4. Handle objections.

    If the buyer has any concerns about price or product fit, proactively address their concerns. Listen to them and validate their concern. Then, ask additional qualifying questions and respond thoughtfully.

    5. Ask for the sale.

    Once you're confident in the solution you're providing to the buyer and their company, it's time to ask for the sale. Make the buyer feel comfortable, but don't be afraid to communicate any urgency you might be feeling to move the deal forward.

    6. Arrange next steps.

    Finalize the signing of the contract and any additional paperwork. And set your new customer up for success with resources and information about implementation.

    What's the assumptive close? It's a manipulative sales tactic where you act like the prospect has already decided.

    Here are three examples:

    • "When should we get started on implementation?"
    • "What delivery date would you like?"
    • "Which [package, tier, bundle] are you going with?"
    • "Send me [X financial information] and I'll get the paperwork ready now."

    Is this the worst way to close a deal? No. If someone isn't going to buy, the assumptive close won't get them to do a 180 -- so it's not as though you're tricking people into handing over their credit cards. You might, however, convince an on-the-fence prospect to walk away. This technique makes you come across as pushy and self-serving, which isn't the best impression to give when kicking off a business partnership.

    Instead of this strategy, try these closing phrases. We promise they're more effective (and they won't make you feel like a slimeball).

    Asking for the Sale

    Use these non-aggressive closing questions to make the buyer feel comfortable -- without completely taking off the pressure.

    1. "Is there any reason, if we gave you the product at this price, that you wouldn't do business with our company?"

    This one turns salespeople into Jedi mind trick masters. In an Inc. article, Geoffrey James pointed out that if the prospect answers "no" to this question, the rep has indirectly gotten them to agree to the contract. If the answer is "yes," however, the rep has the opportunity to address objections without bringing the deal to a halt.

    2. "If we could find a way to deal with [objection], would you sign the contract on [set period in time]?"

    Objections often kill deals. But in this case, handling the objection is actually a way of closing the sale. Of course, this depends on the company's ability to resolve the problem by a given date. But if a fix is possible, getting the customer to commit ahead of time is a clever way of turning a con into a pro.

    3. "It seems like [product] is a good fit for [company]. What do you think?"

    This question automatically makes your prospect think of all the reasons they're interested in buying. Because you end by asking for their opinion, it sounds genuine rather than self-serving. And once they say something like, "Yeah, I think it could really help us with X," you've got the perfect segue into "Great, I'll send over the proposal right now."

    4. "Would you like my help?"

    This is the closing line espoused by Dave Kurlan in his book Baseline Selling. It's sort of perfect: gentle and friendly without being obscure or weak. Plus, it enforces the rep's image as an advisor rather than a hard-closing salesperson.

    5. "If we throw in [freebie], would that convince you to sign the contract today?"

    Clearly, this closing technique isn't appropriate for every situation (it's called "selling," after all, not "giving away"). But for important or very large deals, offering an exclusive or time-sensitive add-on to sweeten the pot might be a smart move. Price discounts could also make sense in competitive markets. However, it's up to management whether they empower reps to make discount or freebie offers on their own.

    6. "Taking all of your requirements and desires into consideration, I think these two products would work best for you. Would you like to go with [X] or [Y]?"

    The rationale behind giving two alternatives is that the prospect will be more inclined to choose one than turn both away (a third option that's been discreetly taken off the table). The rep thus increases their chances of hearing a "yes" to something rather than a "no" to everything.

    7. "I'd hate to see [negative consequence] befall your company because you didn't have the right product in place. Do you want to take the crucial step to protect your organization today?"

    Fear is a powerful motivator. This closing tactic is most effective in situations where the consequences of not buying will actually harm the business, instead of simply allowing the status quo to continue. It's best to pair this line with external factors, such as new legislation or economic conditions, which prospects can't control.

    8. "Why don't you give it/us a try?"

    It sounds so simple, doesn't it? The disarming and unassuming quality of this question is precisely why sales expert Brian Tracy recommends it. Phrasing the decision as "giving the product a chance" instead of "making a commitment" downplays the risk and ramps up the rapport.

    9. "If you sign the contract today, I can guarantee we can do [special request the buyer asked for]. How does that sound?"

    Similar to #2, but with one important caveat. The closing question in #2 assumes that the salesperson will resolve a prospect objection before they sign the contract. This closing technique-- called a "rebound close" -- promises that the rep will grant a special request after the prospect provides their John Hancock. This critical change in the closing timeframe reflects the difference between a deal-killing objection (that other vendors might be able to address) and a special favor (that other vendors will likely be similarly hesitant to grant).

    10. "I know you said you need to have a solution in place by [date]. Working backward from that day and factoring in implementation and training time, it looks like we'd need to have a signed contract by [date] in order to meet that deadline. Can you commit to that signing date?"

    If you know the prospect has a firm deadline they need to stick to, use it to crank up the urgency. And since you're using the prospect's deadline instead of pulling one out of thin air, this type of reminder-slash-closing line actually helps the buyer instead of unduly pressuring them.

    11. "Will you commit to doing business with us today?"

    Ah, the old direct ask. Sometimes the simplest closing technique can be best, but other times it can come off as presumptive or pushy. A salesperson has to have a firm command of the situation and a high level of familiarity with their buyer to use this closing line successfully.

    12. "Ready to move forward? I can send over the contract right now."

    Everyone likes the idea of progress. If prospects associate the purchase with forward momentum, they'll be likelier to commit. This closing line also reduces the friction of buying -- the contract is already ready, so all they need to do is sign.

    13. "You're interested in X and Y features, right? If we get started today, you'll be up and running by [date]."

    Salespeople can encourage their prospects to make a decision by reminding them the sooner they act, the sooner they'll have their new system. Mentioning specific parts of the product doesn't hurt, either -- buyers will immediately start picturing how much easier their life will be with the new solution.

    14. "What happens next?"

    According to sales expert Mike Brooks, "Whenever your prospect begins stalling or providing any other excuse for not acting today, you simply reply with (these) three words." It might seem crazy to put your prospect in the driver's seat like this -- but something's preventing them from buying, and you need to figure it out if you want any shot of getting their business.

    15. "If we implement by X date, I estimate you can start seeing ROI by March. That means we'd need to close by X date. Is that enough time for you to make a decision?"

    Especially if your prospect needs to prove the value of their purchase to executives — ROI can be a great bargaining chip. If you have the ability to estimate that they'll start to see a return on investment in as little as six months, that might be enough to push them over the edge.

    Just make sure you never promise ROI in a given timeframe. You want to set expectations, so that they know your estimate is never a guarantee.

    16. "Would this be a better fit for your team/budget next quarter? If so, I'm happy to follow up then."

    You've probably been there. Your prospect really wants to push the deal through, but it's just not the right time — and it's starting to eat into your time spent on deals further along in the pipeline.

    This doesn't mean you should close the book on these prospects. But it might be time to ask them honestly and kindly whether it might be better to revisit this at the beginning of their next budget cycle.

    17. "I know X is a really big priority for your team next quarter. If we're able to close by X date, this solution will really be able to help you meet your goals."

    When in doubt, remind them of their goals. If you're selling software that automates part of your prospect's widget manufacturing process, and you know they're approaching the Holiday season — their busiest and most productive time of year — remind them that if they implement by a certain date, they'll have the help they need to close more business themselves.

    Want a more assertive approach? Try these closing lines and questions.

    1. "Unless you have any more questions or concerns, I think we're ready to get started."

    You're leaving the door open for them to get more information while making it clear where you stand. If you've done your job surfacing and resolving objections throughout the sales process, the buyer will answer with something like, "No, I'm good. I think we're ready too."

    2. "Let's discuss pricing."

    With this statement, you transition the conversation from general, abstract topics like ROI and product features into the actual agreement. It's not a very subtle shift, but it works.

    3. "Tell me your thoughts."

    To gauge how ready your prospect is, say this. If they're looking for the metaphorical pen to sign on the dotted line, they'll usually say so. If they're still unsure, you'll hear some hemming and hawing. This gives you the chance to figure out what's holding them back without trying to close too soon.

    4. "We can take as long as you'd like, but I know [you've got another meeting at X time, this call is scheduled to wrap up in Y minutes]. With that in mind, maybe we should move to the actual agreement."

    While you don't want to rush your prospect too much, reminding them of the ticking clock gives you a good reason to bring up pricing. Notice this response is framed around their schedule. If they want to continue the conversation you're currently having, you can offer to arrange another meeting.

    5. "When can we begin [implementation, training, etc.]?"

    This question will get the prospect thinking about the end result, even if they haven't committed to purchasing. And their answer will let you know if their timeline for a new solution has changed. If the prospect is stalling, this is one way to continue moving the deal forward by getting the prospect to think ahead.

    6. "If I were to send over a contract today, would you feel confident signing?"

    Really listen to their answer. If they say, "Yes, but ... " you've encountered an objection, but one you can now question further to understand and solve for. This question might also push them to realize they don't have any further concerns and are ready to buy.

    Regardless, you'll know where you stand with your prospect once they've answered this closing question.

    8. "Have I done enough to earn your business today?"

    It's a simple and humbling question. Your prospect will likely try to answer with a paragraph's response, but try holding them to a "yes" or a "no" first. The answer might be, "No," but it allows you to dig deeper to understand what objections still exist.

    9. "We've been playing phone tag for a while now. Am I right in assuming this isn't a priority for your business at the moment?"

    Sometimes, they're just not that into your offer, and that's alright. Know when it's time to stop reaching out, but make sure they haven't just had a lot of their plate.

    If your prospect is truly not interested, this question gives them the opportunity to get out. If they've just been a little busy but do see value in your offer, this may give them the push they need to make your conversations a priority.

    Want to learn more? Check out a list of sales closing techniques and why they work.

    Editor's note: This post was originally published on August 14, 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


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    Most salespeople are eager to know the best time to cold call their prospects. It’s an enticing idea: Rather than waiting for a compelling event, researching the buyer, and crafting a personalized message, the rep simply needs to know the best day and time of day to make the call.

    Unfortunately for legacy salespeople, this approach doesn’t work anymore. An oft-cited study from the Keller Research Center at Baylor University shows only 1% of cold calls ultimately generate appointments.

    The takeaway is, the “best time to make cold calls” doesn’t exist. But it’s a different story for warm calls. If you’ve done your homework and identified a potential good fit, knowing when to pick up the phone can mean the difference between getting the prospect's voicemail -- and getting a meeting.

    Here are my six suggestions for when to call buyers in 2020.

    1. The Best Day for Sales Calls

    A 2017 study by CallHippo found that Wednesday and Thursday remain the best days of the week to call prospects.

    This finding isn’t completely surprising. After all, people are usually gearing up for the weekend on Friday and aren’t interested in starting a relationship with a salesperson.

    On Monday, buyers are transitioning into work mode and planning their upcoming week.

    By the middle of the week, people have had enough time to settle into their working week and take care of pressing matters without your call feeling like an interruption.

    best day to make a sales call

    Source: CallHippo

    2. The Best Morning Time for Sales Calls

    Making an early morning sales call makes sense. It lets you connect with prospects before their to-do lists become overwhelmingly long. But is it really the optimal time to catch someone at work?

    The same CallHippo study actually found the best time to call a prospect is between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.. The second best time to pick up the phone is between 11:00 a.m and 12:00 p.m..

    When you think about the structure of a typical office day, you realize at 11:00 a.m., most people are wrapping up tasks before taking lunch. Similarly, at 4:00 p.m., they're winding down for the day.

    They're likely hesitant to start a new task, which makes it the perfect time to take a phone call from you.

    3. The Worst Time of the Day for Sales Calls

    What are most professionals in your organization doing between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.? Trickling into work. That makes these hours the worst during which to make calls.

    Most offices open between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., which leaves uncertainty about whether anyone will be there to answer your call. And once in the office, the first hour or two is generally spent organizing your day and resolving immediate requests.

    Oh, and don't hold out hope you'll reach a decision maker if you call earlier or later in the day. Those at the office before 8:00 a.m. are probably there do get work done without distraction, making them less likely to pick up the phone. The same goes for those burning the midnight oil.

    4. The Best Response Time

    Can't follow up with new leads within the first hour they become qualified? CallHippo identified a 450% difference in response time for leads receiving a follow-up call within an hour of submitting an inquiry and those that didn't.

    The moral of this story? When in doubt, call immediately.

    5. Persistence Pays Off

    Do you quit calling a lead after your second or third voicemail? You might be selling yourself short -- way short. CallHippo found over 30% of leads never receive a follow-up call after intitial contact. However, the same survey found salespeople have a 90% success rate on making contact with their lead on the sixth call.

    That means by making a few more call attempts, sales reps can achieve a 70% growth in contact rates. Sound like something you're interested in? Don't give up too soon.

    how many sales calls to make

    Source: CallHippo

    In a similar survey, Velocify found call sequencing strategy was a salesperson's best friend. Six calls scheduled over a 15-day period saw contact rates improve by 110%.

    6. Speed-to-Call Trumps All

    Velocify's survey found the biggest difference in making contact with new leads is following up fast. In fact, their research found prospects receiving a call within one minute of their initial inquiry were 391% more likely to convert.

    Ultimately, picking the right time to make your sales calls is essential to sales success. While these six rules of thumb are a good place to start, you may find different strategies work better for your business. Test these approaches and adopt the ones that work for you. You might be surprised to find how many more prospects you can reach with a few simple tweaks.

    Want more? Read our tips to enhance your sales calls next.


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    As salespeople and professionals, I'm sure you can relate to the sheer number of cold emails I get every hour of every day of every week. With so much noise in our inboxes (not to mention the issue of limited time), there’s a good chance we're not opening all of those emails.

    But when I receive an email from a salesperson I’m about to meet, the odds are much better that I’ll open the email and review the content.

    While I am more likely to view this person’s email due to our upcoming commitment and prior relationship, I expect more from the email in terms of content.

    The Importance of a Pre-Meeting Email

    One simple advantage of sending a pre-meeting email is standing out from the competition. You will stay in front of prospects and differentiate yourself if you do some research and get personal.

    You also need to keep track of your promises and recommendations throughout the sales process, so that follow through is carried out with precision, and a pre-meeting email can help you achieve this end. Making business personal and meeting (or better yet, exceeding) expectations are two ways to close more deals.

    How to Write an Email for a Meeting

    Creating a Pre-Meeting Email Template

    You might know that you need to write a pre-meeting email, and you might even know some of the basics of pre-meeting email content, but actually crafting such an important piece of communication doesn’t always come easily.

    At the very least, your pre-meeting email should include a reminder confirming the location, time, and date of the meeting. You also should ensure attendees know the purpose of the meeting, along with any reports, pre-reading, or requests for materials a day or two in advance.

    To create a solid pre-meeting email template, we suggest you follow these steps:

    1. Include a specific subject line, with the meeting day and topic.
    2. Write a personal greeting, such as "Hi [Contact]!"
    3. Write a brief reminder paragraph that covers the purpose of the meeting and what you expect. For example, "I’m looking forward to meeting you at [location and time]. As I mentioned during our phone call on [date], I’ll be sharing [product], which relates to your [goal]. We aim to [witty line about your company brand]."
    4. Write a brief closing paragraph, guiding the prospect to a piece of company content. Offer a link to a video, white paper, or some other quality content relating to your meeting. Offer to provide any other materials that the prospect wants, and make yourself available for questions or feedback. For example, "You can see a short video about [product] on our website if you’re curious. Feel free to email or call if you have any questions or further needs before we meet on [date and time]."
    5. Wrap it up and you’re done. “Looking forward to meeting with you followed by your name is the best way to end a pre-meeting email.

    Personalizing a Pre-Meeting Email

    Keep in mind that the pre-meeting email template can only get you so far. If you haven’t truly adopted your company’s CRM yet, you need to do so to craft a killer personalized pre-meeting email.

    All of the personal information you need about your prospects is in that CRM, and your job as a sales representative becomes much easier when you rely on your company’s existing tools and data when communicating with prospects.

    Additionally, remember to include the sales content that matters most to your prospect in your pre-meeting email. If you’re not sure where to find the right content, utilize your company’s sales and marketing productivity tools. Personalizing your pre-meeting email with just the right content could make or break your deal.

    Pre-Meeting Email Template

    We've covered quite a bit here. Let's see it in action:

    Global Services + Grimes Consulting Meeting on 12/16

    Hi Lisa,

    Hope you had a nice few days out of the office!

    I'm looking forward to our meeting tomorrow. I'd like to walk away having a better understanding of your pain points with global logistics, your team's 2020 goals, and how our international logistics software can help you achieve them.

    In the meantime, we just released a new case study with a company I think yours has quite a lot in common with. Here's the link: [Insert link].

    Let me know if you have any questions. Otherwise, looking forward to connecting tomorrow at 11:00 AM ET. Hope you're surviving the post-vacation sluggishness!

    Regards, Meg

    send-now-hubspot-sales-bar

    You've kept things short, concise, and direct. You've reminded your prospect of the meeting you both agreed to, provided them with a brief outline of what you'll discuss, and provided value to them in the form of a relevant content offer.

    It might seem formal, but it's also familiar and humanizes your meeting, instead of it being a faceless hold on their calendar. Communication and relationship is what sales is all about, but you can't do either if you never meet. 

    Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 1, 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

     

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