The 5 Most Common Objections During Prospecting and How to Overcome Them

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When we talk about objection handling in sales, it is often focused on the later stages of the buying cycle, usually during negotiations. We focus on pricing and timing issues — the types of objections that prevent a deal from closing. A crucial yet overlooked aspect of objection handling occurs at the very beginning of the buying process, during prospecting. Sales reps who do their own prospecting and sales development reps encounter a myriad of objections in their attempts to connect with and qualify prospects.Get 25+ sales experts' playbooks for free. Reserve your seat at Inbound Sales  Day today.

Prospecting is hard. You are typically barging in on someone, so you’ll hear objections such as, “I’m too busy, call back next quarter,” “Just send me some information,” “We don’t have budget outlined for this,” and so on. The good news is you will begin to identify a set of common objections during prospecting. The key to success is to be prepared to overcome them and move prospects to the next step.

The vast majority of objections heard during prospecting are knee-jerk reactions from busy people who don’t yet see the value in working with you. Nearly all objections at the prospecting phase of the sales process fit into one of two categories:

  1. I don’t understand the value and I’m too busy to think about it.
  2. I’m not ready for a buying conversation. 

Here’s how to avoid and/or overcome these objections.

First, articulate value early and concisely. You can mitigate the value objection 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. For more on the quick value prop, check out this post.

Second, 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 discussion of the product yet. If they ask a product question, recommend that you show them in the next meeting.

The Top 5 Prospecting Objections

Here are the five 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 her 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?”

When No Means No

Prospects often don’t give you a chance to explain the value you think you can provide. They are too busy, and have too little faith in the hordes of SDRs and sales reps that reach out to them on a daily basis. Unfortunately, they have learned through experience that these knee-jerk objections are the best defense against people wasting their time. This forces salespeople to be more assertive and persistent.

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.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

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Source: The 5 Most Common Objections During Prospecting and How to Overcome Them
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The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post

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Even though we all are crunched for time, spouting off a mediocre blog post for the sake of hitting a deadline isn’t worth it. Considering our audiences have access to countless other articles, it’s unlikely that they’d settle for a half-baked attempt.

Download our free introductory blogging guide here for more beginner business  blogging tips. 

We get it, though: It can be difficult to keep track of all the right blog components when you’ve got a full plate of projects. There’s a lot to remember when crafting a solid blog post — which means there’s also a lot to forget.

To make sure nothing slips through the cracks and every one of your blog posts is both comprehensive and useful to your readers, we’ve created a rundown of everything you need to remember when you start writing. Bookmark this blog post, and make sure you’ve completed this checklist the next time you press “publish.”

How to Write a Perfect Blog Post

1) Headline

Every great blog post starts with a headline that grabs the reader’s attention, and compels them to click and keep reading to learn more. Internet readers have very short attention spans — around eight seconds in length — and the headline is one of the critical first elements that help readers decide if they want to click and stay on your site. In fact, 60% of readers don’t read past the headline, which presents a big opportunity. Here’s how to write a great headline:

Brainstorm a Working Title

Start with a working title in mind and brainstorm how to make the angle as interesting as possible. This is the phase of blogging where you start with a general topic and narrow down exactly what you want to write about that topic.

For example, if I want to write about the topic of “blogging,” I need to come up with a more specific working title first. And those working titles depend on the format of my blog post. Whether you’re writing a listicle, an explainer article, or a how-to guide, brainstorm a few titles to guide your research. Here are a few ideas:

  • The Guide to Business Blogging
  • How to Get Started with Blogging
  • 10 B2B Blogging Strategies We Love (and Why)

Once you have an angle you want to pursue, it’s time for keyword research.

Conduct Keyword Research

Keyword research will help you create a headline that will perform well on search engine results pages (SERPs). Your headline is one of many factors Google considers when ranking results on SERPs, and an optimized title will help people find the information they need more easily.

Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and HubSpot’s keywords tool can help you determine exactly which terms people are searching for, and which will be easier or more difficult for your new blog post to rank for.

“Blogging” is a broad search term, and when I dropped it into SEMrush, more than 75,000 keyword results were returned. We recommend targeting long-tail keywords that are more specific to the exact audience you’re targeting — which you can learn more about by creating buyer personas.

When I searched for “business blogging,” on the other hand, I found keywords with lower search volume, but would be more specifically targeted to the audience I’m trying to reach.

Once you’ve nailed the keyword you’re targeting, you can create your final title, as well as your headers (more on that later). For the purposes of this example, I chose, “The Definitive Guide to Business Blogging.”

Craft a Title

When it comes to the art of the perfect blog post, we’ve done some analysis and looked at how our own titles have performed. Here are the consistent principles we found:

  • The ideal blog post title length is 60 characters.
  • Headlines between 8 and 12 words are shared most often on Twitter.
  • Headlines between 12 and 14 words are liked most often on Facebook.

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We also found that headlines ending with a bracketed clarification — for example, “The Definitive Guide to Business Blogging [New Data]” — performed 38% better than titles without that clarification.

If you’re having trouble trimming down the length of a title, run it through SEOmofo and Twitter to see how the title will appear on SERPs and when it’s shared on social media.

2) Meta Description

The meta description doesn’t live on your blog post — it lives somewhere different that’s just as important.

The meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given web page. Basically, it’s a short description you see on a SERP to “preview” what the page is about. Check it out below:

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The headline, URL, and meta description work together to convince searchers to click on a link to read the entire blog post, so you’ll want to put thought into what to write for this piece of your blog post, too.

In our analysis, we found the ideal meta description length is under 155 characters.

3) Featured Image

Featured images usually sit at the top of a blog post and are another element to draw readers in to learn more. The image should reflect what the story is about, intrigue readers, or provoke them. It shouldn’t be too literal or obvious, and it can simply be aesthetically pleasing, too.

Here’s an example of one of our featured images. It features a mobile phone and a bright yellow color — fitting, considering I was writing about Snapchat:

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Make sure you choose featured images that you’re legally able to edit and distribute. Here are some of our suggestions:

4) Introduction

The introduction needs to quickly hook your reader and convince her to read the rest of your blog post. It also has to let the reader know what your post is about, so she knows what she’s getting. Nobody likes clickbait, so you want to make sure your post is about what the headline says it is.

Whether your approach is humor, interesting and surprising facts, or asking a question, find a way to make the first lines of your blog posts as attention-grabbing as possible. Write an introduction that would make you want to keep reading an article — a quick few paragraphs to draw the reader in and let him know what he’s about to read.

Here’s an introduction my colleague, HubSpot Staff Writer Aja Frost, wrote that does this effectively:

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Frost uses a cliffhanger approach here — and now I want to read more to learn about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. For more introduction inspiration outside of HubSpot Blogs, I recommend reading posts on Medium and Buffer.

5) Sub-Headers

Sub-headers are another on-page SEO element that helps your blog post to rank in Google Search. Sub-headers organize and break up your blog post into different sections to signal to Google (and your reader) what the post will cover.

Sub-headers should be written with H2 tags or smaller — never H1 tags, which signal a title. Use sub-headers to split up sections of your blog post — making sure to integrate the keywords you’re using this post to target.

In this particular post, I’m targeting the keywords “perfect blog post,” which I’ve used in my title and the first sub-header.

6) Body 

The meat of your blog post — separated by various sub-headers, of course — is where your readers will undoubtedly derive the most value. In our analysis, the ideal blog post length is roughly 2,100 words, but that will vary depending on your topic. Medium found that posts that took seven minutes to read earned the most engagement and attention, and serpIQ found that most of the top-10 Google results are between 2,032 and 2,416 words.

7) Data

Whenever it’s possible to use data and numbers, do so. Numbers written as numerals (23) instead of words (twenty-three) have been shown to attract reader attention when they quickly scan what they’re reading online. Additionally, numbers represent facts — which are unimpeachable and most trusted by your readers.

If you’re using numbers or data in your blog post, add [Data] or [Research] to your headline for additional impact, as we discussed earlier in the post.

8) Multimedia Elements

We’ve told you a few times that your reader is having trouble staying focused, so wherever it’s possible to use multimedia content to break up the blog post and re-engage your reader, add images, videos, audio recordings, and social media posts. Changing up the format of your blog post will provide additional value to your reader while making sure their eyes are focused on what they’re reading and seeing.

 

This pic sums up our #Mondaymood. What’s yours? 🗒🖊☕️

A post shared by HubSpot (@hubspot) on Mar 27, 2017 at 5:12am PDT

Works, huh? 

9) Conclusion

When you’re ready to wrap up and sign off, make sure to let your reader know the article is closing. Your conclusion doesn’t need to be lengthy, but it should serve to recap the blog post the reader just finished and provide more resources and guidance, if wanted. More on that next.

10) Call to Action

Finish your conclusion with a meaningful call to action (CTA) for your reader — whether it’s advice, a content offer, or a link to another related blog post. Use the last lines of your post to leave the reader feeling like he or she learned something from you — and like there’s even more to learn from you, creating the desire to click a link or CTA image and read more.

For more ideas on how to write a killer blog post, learn from our analysis of 175,000 B2B and B2C blog posts.

What’s your go-to blueprint for a blog post? Share with us in the comments below.

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Source: The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post
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18 Closing Phrases To Seal a Sales Deal in 2017

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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.
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How to Avoid the Assumptive Close

The assumptive close is a manipulative sales tactic. Essentially, 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?”

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). 

How to Close a Deal

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 article on INC, 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 protecting 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. 

Closing a Sale

Want a more assertive approach? Try these closing lines.

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 guage 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.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

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Source: 18 Closing Phrases To Seal a Sales Deal in 2017
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17 Email Subject Lines Sales Reps Swear By & Why They Work So Well

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While many people agonize over their email copy and then slap a hastily written subject line on two seconds before hitting “send,” sales reps know that the situation should actually be reversed.

After all, there’s no point in crafting a beautiful message if buyers don’t even open it. And what prompts the all-important open? The subject line.

Find out your industry's email open rate benchmark and start being better than  average. Now.

But with only a tiny bit of real estate to work with, there’s no room for mistakes. With this in mind, we took to Reddit’s Sales channel to round up sales email subject lines vouched for by real sales reps. Instead of reinventing the wheel with your messages, use these subject lines knowing that they’ve been tried, tested, and verified to work by reps around the world.

Interested to learn why these subject lines do the trick? We’ve also included the logic behind each for your knowledge.

1) “I hope all is well”

The Reddit user who suggested this subject line says that “it gets a lot of reads from decision makers who are tired of people trying to serve their own self interests.” Demonstrating genuine concern for the email recipient is refreshing.

Why it works: In a study, Ferrazi Greenlight found that reps who focused primarily on building relationships rather than generating transactions were more successful in the long run. Prioritizing the relationship from the very beginning will separate your message from the scores of other hard sales pitches.

2) [Personal tidbit about the buyer]

The more you can personalize your email subject line to the person at the other end of the “send” button, the better. According to Ali Powell, principle account executive at HubSpot, the secret to writing a phenomenal sales email subject line is to make it something about them — that couldn’t apply to anyone else. 

Why it works: People prefer personal over pretty. Consider the fact that plain text emails soundly beat beautifully designed HTML emails in a series of A/B tests. Why? They look like one-to-one messages. So even though the subject line “love that you’re in a band” doesn’t look as sophisticated as “Technology For the Future,” it’s a lot more appealing to your buyer who moonlights as a drummer and controls the tech budget purse strings for her company by day.   

3) “Your annual goal”

The essential nugget in this subject line is “your.” Pair “your” with any goal or problem the prospect might be experiencing, and you’ve got a hyper-relevant email subject line. And if you can’t nail down an issue unfolding at the buyer’s company? As the redditor who vouched for this subject lines points out, “then you’re just spamming an advertisement.”

Why it works: It’s a well-known anecdotal fact that most people prefer talking about themselves than listening to others, but we now have the science to back this up. Research from Harvard shows that when people talk about themselves, areas of the brain pertaining to motivation and reward spring into action. 

4) “Quick question”

Curiosity didn’t just kill the cat, it also made the buyer click. This subject line is a favorite among redditors.

Why it works: According to curiosity-drive theory, people find uncertainty unsettling. Conversely, clearing up areas of uncertainty is mentally satisfying. Teasing the email recipient with a “quick question” without telling them what it is prompts prospects to open your message and alleviate the ambiguity.

5) “One more thing”

What could it be? The prospect will have to open your email to find out.

Why it works: Similar to “quick question,” this subject line plays on the buyer’s curiosity. They must either read your email … or live with the unease of not knowing what you’re offering.

6) “[Name] referred me to you”

Smart reps know that referrals are as good as gold in sales. According to NoMoreColdCalling.com, referred prospects have a whopping 50% close rate. If you’ve been introduced to a prospect by someone they trust, make it clear in the subject line that it’s referral.

Why it works: Referral sales expert Bill Cates notes that salespeople who get referred to new prospects “borrow trust” from the referral source. This means that instead of coming in cold, the relationship between the rep and the prospect automatically becomes warmer thanks to the relationship between the referred prospect and the referral source. 

7) “Contacting you at [Referral]’s suggestion”

Different phrasing, same idea. 

Why it works: Think of a referral as social proof on steroids. The closer the prospect is to the referrer, the better.

8) “You are not alone”

Generally, prospects only have visibility into their own organization while salespeople enjoy a broader vantage point that spans countless buyers and customers. One Reddit user pointed out that this subject line provides a good opening to an email containing a case study or testimonial from an organization similar to the prospects’.

Why it works: Who likes to be alone? The mere fact that other people have done or are doing something is often enough to sway opinions and drive action, thanks to the bandwagon effect.

9) “Good morning, [Name]”

According to Laurie Puhn, 94% of couples who greet each other with “Good morning!” each day report they have an “excellent” relationship. Granted, you probably don’t want to date your prospect, but you do want to forge a strong bond with them. A simple salutation might be just what the doctor ordered.

Why it works: In a world where fewer and fewer people greet each other when they get into the office, a simple “good morning” is a humanizing differentiator for your email. 

10) “[Name], we can help you [goal]”

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? To be honest, I really don’t care as long as you use my name in conversation. Inserting a prospect’s name into your email’s subject line emphasizes that the message is just for them.

Why it works: Not only has research shown that people respond positively to hearing their names, the phenomenon of implicit egotism holds that our name-based preferences extend to the cities we choose to live in, and what occupations we pursue. 

11) [Referral name]

This is another one from Powell’s arsenal“Just put the full name of the person in the subject line and nothing else. I promise this works!” she writes. For example: “Jane Smith” or “John Doe.” It really doesn’t get any easier than that.

Why it works: We’ve already talked about the power of referrals, which is one reason this subject line is so potent. But there’s another reason — in a sea of emails labeled with verbs and adjectives, a person’s name (and one the recipient knows well at that) stands in stark contrast.

12) “Possible meeting [date] at [time]”

The user who added sales trainer’s Kate Kingston’s subject line to r/sales gave one additional tip as to how to use it: “Setting an appointment on the :45 is much less pressure than setting it on the :00 or even :30 because it appears that you will only take up 15 minutes of your decision maker’s time.”

Why it works: According to Copyblogger, “A specific headline conveys more valuable information to a potential reader, which acts to draw them magnetically into the content.” Although a subject line isn’t exactly a blog post title, the principles of specificity still apply, and can help boost your open rates.

13) “[Situation] at [Company]”

For example, “Sales Training at Business Inc.” or “HR Services at Organization Y.” Whatever it is that you sell, connect it with the company you’re prospecting into for a subject line one-two punch.

Why it works: Just like the prospect’s own name, buyers are also partial to the name of their company. When in doubt, personalize.

14) “Who is in charge of X at [Company]?”

Seeking an introduction to the right contact at the buyer’s organization? There’s nothing like getting right to your point in the subject line of the message.

Why it works: According to sales trainer Jeff Hoffman, approaching prospects like a curious student instead of a knowledgeable expert boosts engagement. Posing a question in your subject line asking for the prospect’s help paves the way for a conversation — the point of a prospecting email.

15) [blank]

Can’t think of a great subject line? One Reddit rep endorsed using a blank subject line every once in a while.

Why it works: Research from HubSpot Sales revealed that no subject line is the most powerful subject line of all. An analysis of 6.4 million emails showed that messages with a blank subject line were opened 8% more often than those with subject lines.

16) “Can I help?”

The age of Always Be Closing is dead — to be successful, salespeople must practice Always Be Helping. Use this subject line to tell the buyer you’re eager to add value.

Why it works: As soon as your prospect sees this in her inbox, she’ll wonder, Help with what? To find out, she will read your email. The well-written, personalized contents will prompt her to respond.

17) “This is a sales email”

 Another commenter on the Reddit thread said messages with this title are opened at a “very high” rate.

Why it works: Rather than trying to disguise the reason you’re reaching out, be honest –prospects appreciate when you don’t beat around the bush. You’ll earn instant trust, not to mention differentiate yourself from less straightforward sales reps.

What’s the subject line that you swear by? Share in the comments.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and freshness.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

10 Time Management Hacks for Sales Reps

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We’ve all heard the saying “time is money.” This is especially true for salespeople. Allotting time to one prospect over another could be the difference between closing a million dollar deal and having the door closed on you. Spending a certain amount of time on one group of activities could set a rep up for record week, while concentrating on something else might launch you down the path to a slump.Time management is one of the most challenging disciplines for salespeople to master. Reps always have several important tasks competing for their attention at once. How do they prioritize and maximize their time?

Short of adding more hours to the day, a few solid time management hacks can help reps boost their productivity. Here are 10 of my favorites.

1) Eliminate administrative tasks.

To maximize your selling time, look for administrative tasks you can automate. Saving a few minutes here and there will quickly add up — and as an added benefit, you can direct more energy toward activities that are actually challenging, like giving demos or answering tough questions.

Here are a few examples:

  • PandaDoc, which integrates with HubSpot, is a good tool for reps who send sales collateral and quotes. It automatically pulls in data from your CRM so you don’t have to tediously copy and paste key details. You can send an error-free, personalized, professional-looking proposal in a few clicks.
  • Route planning software can help you figure out the most efficient way to travel to your prospects’ offices, meaning you’ll never have to manually plan your route again.
  • HubSpot Meetings lets buyer book open slots on your calendar instantly. Say goodbye to long email chains of “What about X time?” “Sorry, I’m busy …. What about Y?”
  • Todoist, a to-do list app, uses AI to learn your personal productivity habits and schedule your overdue tasks accordingly. In other words, the app will figure out the optimal time for you to get everything done.

The best tools will depend on your industry, daily tasks, and specific role, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. The gist is: Automate as much of your non-selling activities as possible.

2) Be prepared to pivot.

When I was in outside sales, I would organize my leads by location and always have the date of my last contact for each lead noted. If I got stood up for an appointment, I could quickly regroup and connect with other nearby prospects to secure a new meeting rather than drive back to the office or cool my heels in a coffee shop until the next appointment.

This tactic also applies to inside sales. Prospects cancel all the time, so salespeople should always be prepared to pivot into other profitable activities. The trick is to not shift gears on those activities. Say you’re prepared to have an exploratory call scheduled to run an hour and the prospects flakes on you. Since you’re already in the mindset of the exploratory call, spend that reclaimed hour prepping for other exploratory calls you have booked that week. Your mind is already focused on the exploratory process. Keep it there.

I’m sure some of you are saying to yourselves, that’s foolish advice — you should use that time to prospect or make follow-up calls. But here’s the thing. Unless you have your leads at the ready and you’re fully prepped to prospect, the odds are you’ll waste time getting ready to make those calls.

From my point of view, prospecting is an activity that tends to be more effective when it is deliberate, planned, and scheduled. This brings us to the next point.

3) Stick with the task you’re on.

Multitasking is a myth. Studies have clearly shown that people cannot actually do two things at once; they’re really just quickly switching between tasks. And that switching dilutes focus and slows people down because their brains have to adjust to each task. Here are two great books about the subject if you’re interested: “Your Brain at Work” by David Rock and “Focus” by Daniel Goleman.

From a sales perspective, different tasks engage different mental muscles. For instance, giving demos requires a much different mindset and focus than pre-call prep or pipeline management. Sales reps can gain efficiency by grouping similar activities.

Take prospecting, for instance. Let’s say your organization advocates using voicemail and email as critical components to prospecting, and you’ve got two hours planned to make prospecting calls. One approach is to dial the phone, get the prospect’s voicemail, leave a message, write a follow-up email, send the email, document the activity in the CRM, set a new activity to try and reach the prospect again, and then move on to the next prospect on your call list and keep repeating this cycle for two hours.

This approach can chew up a ton of time because of all the activity switching. There are a lot of ways to streamline it. One way is to group activities:

  • Figure out how many prospects you can reasonably call in the two hours if all you did was dial the phone and leave voicemail messages. Research that many prospects before your planned and scheduled prospecting time.
  • When it’s time for your two hours of prospecting, pull up the list of researched prospects you want to call.
  • Call each prospect and leave personalized voicemails based on your pre-call research.
  • Log just the call activity in the CRM and quickly move onto the next prospect on the list. Repeat.
  • Later in the day during scheduled administrative time, revisit the set of prospects you called to send out the follow-up emails and set the times you want to reach out again in the CRM.

This simple move to grouping activities will yield a much higher volume of calls, which improves the odds of actually talking to someone on the phone about what you’re selling. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

4) Swallow the frog.

Every rep has at least one task in particular that they simply can’t stand. Prospecting, logging activity, writing follow-up emails, etc. I’ve got mine. I’m sure you’ve got yours.

The funny thing is we can all find plenty of ways to appear productive and avoid those important tasks we dread the most. But by overinvesting in one area to avoid doing work in another, time gets away from you. And behavior like that always catches up to you in the end.

The bottom line: Just do the thing you’re uncomfortable with and get it over with. In fact, do it first if you can.

5) Keep going.

When a rep experiences success or reaches an activity goal, they often take a break to pat themselves on the back. While I’m not against a quick coffee run, the best time to make a call or book an appointment is … right after you had a great call or booked an important appointment. So if you’ve allotted a certain amount of time to an activity — say, two hours for prospecting — don’t stop before the time is up even if you have some success right out of the gate.

Momentum is a powerful thing. Once you’ve got it, don’t squander it. You’ll have even more to pat yourself on the back for if you just keep going.

6) Structure your day around your buyer.

According to experts, the best time to connect with prospects is in the afternoon, the very early morning, the evening, the late-mid early morning, or on weekends. I think that about covers it.

As you probably know, there is no perfect time to connect with your target buyers. It really depends on that particular buyer’s behavior and the way they allocate time to get their jobs done. If a salesperson is selling to contractors, calling at 10:00 a.m. isn’t going to work because they’re already busy on the job site. Calling on a restaurant with a thriving lunch and dinner business any time after noon is probably not going to yield a favorable conversation. Strive to structure your day around your target buyer’s schedule to avoid wasted time and unanswered calls.

7) Streamline repeatable tasks.

I’m not a fan of sales scripts, but the fact remains that if your company targets a certain type of buyer, many of your prospects will be similar to each other. So instead of formulating a brand new list of questions each time you talk to a prospect, develop a core set you can work from and customize.

Developing a framework you use to research prospects is another smart idea. Look at previous deals you won and look for details that came in handy again and again. For instance, maybe you incorporated the knowledge you found on Crunchbase in seven of the last 10 deals you closed. Once you know which data sources are the most valuable, you can immediately go to those sources when researching new opportunities.

8) Have a concise value proposition.

Another area where salespeople can waste time is during introductory conversations. At some point in every sales engagement, your prospect will ask some form of the question, “So what do you do, anyway?” If you have crisp, concise answers to the common questions you get asked every day, you’ll have more time to discuss the things that really matter to your prospects and to gain an understanding of how you can help them. Having a clear, well-articulated value proposition at the ready lessens the possibility that you stumble through the explanation. And the more articulate you are with the buyer, the faster your sale will progress.

9) Create email templates.

It’s vastly inefficient to write a brand-new email every time you contact a prospect. While you should tailor each message to the individual and their situation, you’ll save a huge amount of time if you start with a template rather than a blank slate.

Look through your “Sent” folder to find the emails you send repeatedly. That doesn’t just include outreach emails — you should also make templates for following up, scheduling meetings, recapping calls, and so forth.

10) Reduce distractions.

It can be hard to stay focused when your favorite time-wasting site is just a click away. To ensure you stay focused, ruthlessly get rid of every distraction. If you don’t use a website for your job, block it using the Chrome extension Blocksite or by following these instructions for restricting sites on Safari.

Reps should also stow their cell phones out of sight. It’s all too tempting to check social media or your texts if you can see or hear notifications come up.

These are just a few tricks I have found help sales reps gain more control over their time and their results. What clever hacks have you come up with to save time and be more productive on the sales floor and out in the field? Share your ideas in the comments.

This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

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Source: 10 Time Management Hacks for Sales Reps
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10 Things Salespeople Do That Make Them Seem Desperate

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Desperation turns people off fast. If you’ve ever cooled on a suitor or friend because of overt neediness and constant invitations to meet up, you’ll know what I mean.

Most of us know not to cross the line between eagerness and desperation in social situations. However, when your job is on the line, good judgment can fly out the window. Salespeople need to make a certain amount of sales each month in order to hit their number, and the pressure can sometimes make them come off a bit too strong with their prospects.

But in their quest to make quota, reps often don’t even realize what they’re doing is emitting a desperate vibe. If you’re guilty of any of these 10 behaviors, stop immediately before you send your prospects running.

1) Assuming the prospect is interested.

“Lots of salespeople come off as desperate because they don’t ask the prospect if they’re interested — they just assume they are,” said Pete Caputa, VP of sales at HubSpot.

One way this behavior manifests itself is when a salesperson suggests a meeting or call in their first outreach. According to Caputa, this is a bit presumptive considering the rep can’t truly know at this early stage whether the prospect is a good opportunity or not. And what reads as presumptuous to some translates as desperate to others.

2) Pressing for a meeting too hard.

Prospects will often dismiss salespeople with a quick “We’re not interested,” or “Now’s not a good time,” and good reps are adept at maneuvering past these knee-jerk brush-offs. However, if a rep determines that a prospect is legitimately not interested, they should back off — or risk being labeled as desperate.

But how can a rep ferret out true interest? Caputa recommends posing a simple question: “Do you not want to set a time to talk because you’re busy, or because I haven’t established enough value for you to take another call with me?”

If the prospect replies that they’re buried, the rep understands it’s a “not now” instead of a “not ever.” However, a prospect who doesn’t see the value in what you sell isn’t likely to be a good opportunity, and following up their rejection with “Well, but I really think you’d be a great fit,” or “I understand, but all the other competitors in your space are doing it,” will just sound pleading. Give them an out, and if they take it, let them go.

3) Jumping on problems too quickly.

Reps ask prospects discovery questions to get a feel for their pain points, and understand if a specific product or service can help remedy these issues. However, while it’s great when there’s a match between problem and solution, reps shouldn’t be too eager to make the connection.

“The ideal sales process involves the prospect realizing on their own that yours is the right solution. By the rep asking questions and telling stories about other people like them, the prospect should see themselves in the stories,” Caputa said.

But instead of letting the prospect connect the dots in their own mind, “a lot of times salespeople say, ‘Oh, we can help you with that!’ and explain how you can solve problem X with solution Y,” Caputa added. “And that might not be the way they want to do it.”

Highlighting your product from the get-go seems salesy, and can drive away a good opportunity. Resist the urge.

4) Making side agreements.

Reps desperate to make a sale can be tempted to bend the rules. As Andrew Quinn, HubSpot’s director of training and development, pointed out, this often takes the form of an add-on perk that falls outside the terms and conditions of the deal.

A rep might think these types of “side agreements” are relatively harmless. After all, the prospect signed, right? But remember that this behavior sets up a dangerous precedent of catering to exceptions and dealing with inflated expectations. The prospect who was brought on in this manner is likely to be a poor customer.

5) Issuing ultimatums.

A salesperson has to be at the end of their rope to present an ultimatum or threat to a prospect, but according to Quinn, it happens. This is the category that such utterances as “I’m not leaving here until you make the right choice!” or “If I don’t make this deal happen I’m going to lose my job. Please do this for me … “ fall into.

Ultimatums, threats, and begging don’t make anyone feel good. Don’t go there.

6) Letting your voice communicate nerves.

The more confident a salesperson sounds, the more confident a prospect will feel in moving forward with a buying decision. With this in mind, Quinn cautioned that reps should never let nerves or desperation creep into their voices. Even if you’re nowhere near quota and it’s the last day of the month, reps should speak with an air of cool and calm.

Not sure what a desperate voice sounds like? Here’s a prime example from Ol’ Gil, The Simpsons’ resident Willy Loman:

7) Being too accommodating.

A salesperson should serve their customers, but that doesn’t mean they should act like a servant. For instance, if a prospect is demanding features far outside the bounds of normal service, salespeople shouldn’t simply acquiesce with an “I’ll see what I can do.” Instead, Caputa recommends reps dig into each and every one of a prospect’s additional requests to understand why they need it, and if it’s truly vital.

Another example of this behavior Caputa cited is allowing a prospect to disrespect your time. When a prospect cancels a call at the last minute, they’ll likely apologize the next time they meet with the rep. Whereas most salespeople would respond to this apology with “No problem!” this is wrong in Caputa’s opinion, since it implies the rep’s time is less valuable than the prospect’s. Instead, he suggests asking, “Is everything okay?” and then moving on with the conversation.

“You should be respected as someone who adds value, and when you let a prospect treat you with disrespect, you show you’re desperate for the business,” Caputa said.

8) Refusing to take a hint.

Statistically speaking, the vast majority of your sales opportunities won’t go anywhere. Sometimes prospects won’t even answer your email or return your call. And that’s okay.

What’s not is refusing to move on, and sending email after email after email after email after email. It was exhausting just typing that sentence — can you imagine how desperate that kind of relentless messaging comes off to buyers? I think it’s safe to say “very.”

9) Offering unsolicited opinions.

According to sales expert Jeff Hoffman, few habits are more damaging to your perceived status than giving your unsolicited opinion. It makes you seem overly eager to please. And if your prospect thinks you’re only telling them what they want to hear, they won’t trust anything you say.

Suppose if the buyer tells you, “We’re launching a new campaign targeting millennials next month.” 

Don’t respond, “Oh, awesome. Which tools are you using for that project?” 

Simply ask your question: “Which tools are you using?” 

This matter-of-fact, confident style will lessen the chances you seem desperate.

10) Offering a discount too early.

Nothing screams “I need this deal” more than offering a discount before your prospect has even asked. While discounts have their place in the sales process, you should only bring them up once your prospect has realized your product’s value. If you start the conversation by saying you’re flexible on price, not only will your product seem cheaper (and therefore less desirable), your prospect will infer that you’re eager to close at any cost.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Source: 10 Things Salespeople Do That Make Them Seem Desperate
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15 Dumb Sales Questions Smart Reps Ask

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Let’s be real: Most salespeople are annoying. They view their prospects as numbers in their sales funnel, not as people. They believe earning your business is a chess match and a signed contract means they “won the game.”

However, the average prospect doesn’t know how to purchase anything that falls outside their area of expertise. Think about it. Do you really know how to buy a TV? Do you know what precise technical questions to ask? You’d probably like some help, right?

But when the salesperson at the electronic store asks if she can help, what do you typically respond with? “No, I’m just browsing.”

The cat-and-mouse game buyers and salespeople play has created an unproductive, competitive environment that doesn’t benefit either party.

One of the most common culprits? The questions you’re asking your prospects. Luckily, once you know where you’re going wrong, you can course-correct. Stop asking these 15 common questions — or at the least, rephrase them.

15 Dumb Sales Questions to Avoid

1) “What is your budget?” or “What would you like to spend?”

Buyers often rationalize lying to salespeople about their budget because they feel it is the necessary first step in a negotiation. And why do you need to know about budget up front anyway? If the buyer has purchased what you are selling in the past, they will have money to spend. If they have not — how will they know what price is right?

Instead of demanding a budget right off the bat, strive to understand the prospect’s process for buying and their spend tolerance. Simply asking about their buying process for your type of product or service will get you a lot better information than asking specifically about budget.

2) “What’s more important to you, price or quality?”

Shame on you for asking this question. If you beat the competition solely on price, just come out and say it. However if you are not the low-cost provider, you need to build value. Your prospects will naturally associate a given amount of value with “what the product is supposed to cost” so a good salesperson will try to understand that perspective and discuss price from there.

3) “Are you the decision maker?”

This is a bad question because it’s unclear. Are you asking if they’re the decision maker for which vendors move on to the next step in the buying process? Or are you asking if they can they sign off on the proposal? This puts the prospect in an ego predicament. No one wants to feel as if they are just the informer.

Instead, ask the question,“Who is involved in this process?” Even the CEO gets input from others (or at least he or she should). This should reveal all relevant influencers, stakeholders, and the ultimate decision maker.

Salespeople need to identify the decision makers so they can work with these stakeholders throughout the buying process. Too often we leave it to others to sell our products and services to executives because we failed to appropriately engage them.

4) “What’s your biggest pain point?”

You won’t get the answer simply by asking. Most salespeople stop probing for pain once they hear an indicator such as, “If this doesn’t go well, I will get fired.” However, pain is rooted in emotion. In this example, the pain isn’t the potential of getting fired — it’s the emotion associated with getting fired.

Everything we buy is bought emotionally, so unless you know the pain, how can you truly help? Seek to understand the prospect’s underlying emotional need for change.

5) “How good are your products and services?”

This is a legitimate sales question to ask if your product or service promises to improve the prospect’s business results. However, if you pose it in this way, prepare yourself for a biased answer.

How can you get an honest response? Ask questions around how the business is doing from a third-party perspective, or versus the competition. For instance:

  • When you lose, why do you lose?
  • What do your customers say about your products and services?
  • What percentage of your business is referrals?

6) “How strategic are you?”

Ego will not allow your prospect to say “not at all” (even if that’s the truth). On the other hand, if they do show vulnerability, they will likely blame the company or others for it (which shows they are not truly strategic).

Instead of asking this question at all, simply listen to your prospects’ answers to other queries. I guarantee you will discover if they are strategic or not.

7) “Would you like a proposal or quote?”

When you ask this question, you will likely get blown off one of two ways. You will be either be told “I am happy with my current vendor” or “I don’t want to waste your time.”

Another possibility is that the prospect will gladly take your proposal … and use it to price check their current vendor. Your proposal then functions as intel for your competition. Finally, the prospect could request your proposal simply to get you out of their hair.

A proposal should simply be a summary of expectations both parties have already agreed upon. It should only be sent once you have agreed on scope, pricing, timing, etc., and serves as documentation for the work being completed. It does not sell anything in and of itself.

8) “Can I show you our capabilities?” or “Would you like a presentation?”

Show and tell is for your nine-year-old. If you are presenting, you are not selling. You are bragging. Don’t brag.

9) “Is this a good time to chat?”

Do you think your prospects sit in their offices hoping a salesperson calls? There is never time, but people can make time if they want to. This question gives your prospect an easy out. A better way to ask this question is, “Did I catch you at a bad time?”

10) “What level of service are you willing to pay for?”

This question implies that your relationship is only about money, and that’s just not true. Sales is about balancing what the prospect needs with what they want. Your questions should inform you about the prospect’s business so you can discuss appropriate solutions.

Build value, not budgets. If your business offers multiple service levels, ask the relevant questions in order to make a recommendation.

11) “Who is your competition?”

You should do research before you talk to prospects to identify their biggest rivals. Asking this question makes you look like you’re uninformed on their industry and company. Have some ideas about who their competition is, but don’t want to jump to conclusions? Try asking your prospect, “I did some research, and it looks like your biggest competitors are X, Y, and Z. Does that sound right to you?”

This question allows you to verify your findings without losing face or seeming ill-prepared.

12) “What can I do?” or “What will it take to earn your business?”

This sets you up for failure because you are now just an order taker. The prospect tells you in this moment what it will take to get a signed contract … and they will continue to tell you what you have to do for the rest of the relationship. This isn’t exactly the partnership you touted when trying to earn the business. This question also implies that you will take on anyone and are willing to be insincere to close a deal.

Get to know the prospect’s business, their pains, and how you can help. If it makes sense to work together, it will happen. If not, move on.

13) “Who was the best salesperson who ever called on you?”

Who cares? Are you going to be inauthentic and act like someone else to try to earn the business? Would you ask your spouse who was the best person they ever dated? Forgo this question in lieu of more valuable and revealing queries.

14) “What do you dislike about your current vendor?”

The objective here is totally transparent: You’re trying to identify weaknesses in your prospect’s current supplier relationship so you can position yourself as a better alternative. If the buyer says, “Their shipments are frequently late,” you’ll predictably say something along the lines of, “We’re always on time; ask our customers,” or “We move mountains to deliver our goods on the right date.” 

It’s actually less persuasive to present your company’s strengths reactively. The prospect will wonder if you’re only touting that specific detail because you’re trying to amp up their dissatisfaction. Instead, delve into their priorities and needs and position your offering accordingly. Your pitch will feel more genuine.

15) “Can you tell me about your business?”

Unlike questions that dig into your prospect’s needs, objectives, and strategic initiatives, asking them to tell you about their business is solely for your benefit. In addition, posing such a high-level, broad question tells the buyer you haven’t even bothered to browse their company website before the call.

A good sales professional has virtually no cap on earning potential, but it takes more than practice to attain mastery. Top salespeople continuously develop and refine sales skills through learning — with the help of a coach, trainer, manager, or on their own. Don’t you think asking great questions is one of those critical skills?

This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

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Source: 15 Dumb Sales Questions Smart Reps Ask
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8 Snapchat Mistakes to Avoid (and How to Fix Them)

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Do you ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling on your phone — just tapping away at your various apps to see what’s going on?

It’s my go-to method for killing time when I’m commuting or waiting for my TV show to return from a commercial break. And I’ve found that when I’m bored, I’m more likely to breeze through the content I’m consuming without really looking at it. Do you know the feeling?

The name of the game when it comes to producing exceptional content on social media is to be eye-catching. Literally — your content needs to jump out from busy social media feeds to make me stop my scrolling and read, watch, or click on it.

To that end, we wanted to help you learn from mistakes we’ve seen on Snapchat that don’t make us want to click to learn more. Read on for common problems — and solutions — for making your Snapchat Stories as compelling and clickable as possible.

8 Snapchat Mistakes You Might Be Making

1) Your Stories are too long.

The problem: Your Story is made up of too many images and videos.

The solution: Keep your Story to 10 Snaps or fewer, and make them impactful.

Clicking is hard work.

Well, it’s not exactly grueling labor, but Snapchat users don’t want to spend a ton of time clicking through a myriad of Snaps to get to the meat of what you’re trying to communicate. If your message can’t be quickly told, it doesn’t mean it’s not an important message — it just might not be the best fit for an ephemeral Snapchat Story.

Here’s a Snapchat Story from Netflix (@netflix). It’s made up of 10 Snaps that effectively tell a story without taking too long or boring the viewer:

2) Your Stories are too short.

The problem: Your Story is so short as to be uninformative.

The solution: Make sure your stories have enough context to make sense.

Don’t go overboard with being concise, either. Make sure you’re posting enough Snaps that your Story is just that — a clear narrative. Use text, emojis, and narration to provide context for the viewer so your Story is memorable and helpful. 

Here’s an example of a short and sweet Snapchat Story from the United States White House (@whitehouse). The Story is only made up of two Snaps, but text and filters provide enough context for the viewer:

3) You post Stories too frequently.

The problem: You’re posting Snapchat Stories too often.

The solution: Post more impactful Stories at a lower frequency, and spread out Snaps throughout the day.

All social media platforms are different, and you should post on them differently. What works on Twitter won’t work exactly the same on Snapchat, and we recommend that you plan to post only once or twice per week on Snapchat.

Additionally, the more recently you’ve posted a Snap to your Story, the higher your brand’s name sits on the “Recent Updates” list. So when you plan out your Snaps for a Story, don’t post them all at once. Spread them out over the course of the day so absentminded scrollers (like me) see your brand’s name at the top of their feed whenever they log in.

4) Your Stories offer no way to engage.

The problem: Your Snapchat Story doesn’t include a call-to-action.

The solution: Include prompts to reply, take a screenshot, or visit a website.

If you’re using Snapchat for a brand, make sure there’s a call-to-action for your viewer to drive your goals. We suggest asking viewers to interact from within the Snapchat app by replying to Snaps, screenshotting images, or tuning in for more news at a later time. You can drive viewers to your website by asking them to screenshot a URL, too. Just check out this example from NASA on Snapchat (@nasa) that drivers viewers to its website:

5) Your Stories are too similar.

The problem: All of your Stories features the same people or themes.

The solution: Source content from other team members, and brainstorm creative one-off events to keep your Stories unique.

We know it’s hard to spice up your Snapchat Stories if you’re a one-person social media team. To help diversify your content and keep intriguing your visitors, invite your team members to submit pictures and ideas, and ask other people to “host” Snapchat Stories from time to time. You can plan out unique content for company events or social media holidays, too.

6) Your Snaps aren’t creative.

The problem: Your Stories are simply point-and-shoot images.

The solution: Use drawings, stickers, emojis, filters, and lenses.

Snapchat is far too fun to keep things simple. Instead of just shooting and posting raw photos and videos, make sure to explore the different creative features to make your content more unique.

Use creative features in moderation, and don’t go too overboard. Geofilters, emojis, and lenses are fun ways to make a selfie more interesting, add context to a Snap, or to show the lighter side of your brand’s personality. Just look at how Refinery29 (@refinery29) does this with emojis and drawings in its Snapchat Story interview:

7) Your Stories require sound.

The problem: Viewers have to turn up the volume to get the message of your Stories.

The solution: Use text and writing so videos can be consumed with or without sound.

Most videos on social media are watched while users are scrolling through their feeds, where videos auto-play on mute unless the user clicks to turn up the volume.

What does this mean? Your videos on Snapchat must be compelling and communicative, even without sound. Use captions, doodling, emojis, and filters to make your images say 1,000 words — without your followers needing to plug in headphones. If you need lots of text or narration to get your point across, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad story — it just might not be the best fit for Snapchat. Consider a post on another text-based social media platform, like Facebook or Twitter, instead.

Here’s an example of a thorough Snapchat Story from Sephora (@sephora). It’s narrated if you turn up the volume, but viewers still get all of the information they need just from watching:

8) You aren’t recording important Story metrics.

The problem: You’re only recording Story views and screenshots

The solution: Track Story clickthrough rates to analyze how viewers like your Snaps.

Snapchat’s analytics leave something to be desired for marketers wanting to track growth and engagement. As it is now, marketers can only track the number of story views and screenshots their Snapchat Stories earn, and these numbers must be recorded manually within the 24 hours before a Story disappears.

Another valuable metric that isn’t as self-evident? Story clickthrough rate change.

If you post a Snapchat Story made up of 10 separate Snaps, analyze how many views your first Snap received compared to your last Snap. If the number of views drops over the course of your entire Story, that’s a sign followers are tapping through the first or second Snaps — and then navigating away.

You can roughly calculate this by subtracting your last Snap’s number of views from your first Snap’s number of views. So for example, if your first Snap earned 100 views, and your final Snap only earned 80 views, your clickthrough rate declined by 20%.

Analyzing this, in addition to your number of views and other engagements, will give you an idea of who’s watching your Stories from start to finish. If you observe a lot of dropoff between your first and last Snaps, that’s a sign you need to experiment with shorter Stories or different content to keep followers paying attention.

Happy Snapping

These are just a few ideas for how to create compelling and engaging Snapchat Stories for your brand. We suggest referring back to tip #3 often and analyzing how your followers engage with your content. If you aren’t getting many screenshots or clickthroughs, your Snaps could be falling victim to people like me — the mindless tappers.

For more ideas on how to create engaging Snapchat Stories for your audience, read our Snapchat for business guide, and learn more from our experts in the video below:

What are your hard and fast rules for brand Snapchat Stories? Share with us in the comments below.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Call or Email? 4 Tips to Determine When to Use Which in Sales

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The method of outreach sales reps use for a first connect makes a significant difference in response rates. Rather than deciding whether to call a new prospect or send an email based on personal preference, use the method your prospect will be most responsive to.

Which leads me to the question: Phone or email? While there are a few tips that can help you decide, sales reps should know that in the grand scheme of a sales engagement, it’s phone and email. However, I’m specifically addressing the first touch in this article, and since you shouldn’t issue an identical email and voicemail, you have to make a choice.

When deciding between trying a prospect by phone or sending an email, let the following four factors be your guide.

1) Time and Day of the Week

First, consult a calendar and a clock. Statistically, phone connect rates rise as the day progresses, and as the week progresses. In other words, a person is more likely to answer their phone later in the workday and the workweek.

That said, I like to reserve 3 p.m. and later of the prospect’s local time as my prime calling hours. Same goes for Thursdays and Fridays — I block out large chunks of time on these days for cold calling.

But what if a prospect doesn’t pick up their phone in these timeframes? Leave a voicemail. Response rates to voicemails also increase later in the day since checking phone messages is something people often do before heading home for the evening. Calling late is a win-win.

On the other hand, the ideal timespan in which to send email is shorter but more frequent. While I draft connect emails throughout the day, I am careful to send them either 10 minutes before the hour or 10 minutes after the hour. These brief windows correspond with people leaving or going to meetings. What do they do with the few minutes they have to kill? Scroll through email on their smartphones. If you synch your email to be sent with the time your buyer is most likely to check their inbox, your message will pop up on top instead of being buried beneath others. 

2) The Ask

What’s your objective for this first outreach? To set up a meeting? Get some more information? Receive a referral? Figuring out your ask and categorizing it as “weak” or “strong” will help you determine whether to call or email.

Strong asks require commitment from the prospect to do something. I would label requests for meetings, conference calls, or product trials as strong closes. Weak asks seek straightforward information from the buyer — think a prompt for feedback or a referral.

Once you know your close and have determined if it’s strong or weak, it’s easy to choose between a call or an email. If you’re putting forth a strong close, pick up the phone. Because these asks require more from the prospect, salespeople need to employ their closing skills to secure a “yes.” And it’s far easier to persuade on a phone call, when a rep can respond to and smooth over objections in real time. 

But if the ask is weak, draft an email. Don’t take up the prospect’s time on the phone unnecessarily if your request can be fulfilled with a few short lines of text.

It’s interesting to note that most salespeople take the opposite approach — they ask buyers for meetings through emails and reserve simple questions for calls. Why? Because they’re afraid of being rejected on a strong ask over the phone.

Don’t let fear block your way to connecting with a buyer. Reverse this equation and watch your response rates climb.

3) The Level of the Prospect

Do individual contributors have assistants? Not usually. But do C-level executives? Almost always.

That’s why the higher up your prospect is in an organization, the more likely you are to reach a live person when you call. Since a live conversation with anyone — regardless of whether they’re the person you were trying to reach or not — trumps an email exchange, lean on the phone with buyers at the management level or above. Also, higher-level prospects are generally more comfortable on the phone, and less intimidated by sales calls.

But if individual contributors don’t answer their phones, no one else is going to pick up — and they’re not likely to return a call from an unknown number. In addition, lower-level professionals are often away from their desks — traveling, working in groups, participating in meetings, and so on. Therefore, a rep is much more likely to connect with a prospect at this level through an asynchronous channel such as email.

4) The Buyer Persona

Some buyer personas favor a different communication style than others. Their preference depends on multiple factors: Their age, the nature of their job, their industry, and more.

In general, millennials like communicating by email more than over phone. If you’re reaching out to a younger buyer, take this into account.

You might find professionals in customer-facing roles are more amenable to talking on the phone — because that’s what they’re used to. Those in internal jobs, however, may be more comfortable sending emails.

Lastly, those in more traditional industries are typically accustomed to phone calls.

Following Up

These four criteria make it much easier to choose between an email and a phone call for your first outreach. But what about subsequent touch points?

In my opinion, the beginning and the end of each sales engagement should be phone-heavy, since that’s where the strongest asks are — starting a relationship, and closing a deal. In between, reps should opt for email as a rule of thumb.

Want more sales tips? Check out my blog

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness. 

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

A Primer on Persuasion: 21 Strategies to Convince Prospects to Buy

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For a salesperson, persuasion is the ultimate superpower.

How often do you get a call from a prospect you’ve never spoken to before who says, “I love your service and it’s the perfect fit for my business. Where do I sign?”

Probably not that often.That’s where persuasion comes in. Some deals are easier to close than others, but all sales conversations will involve some degree of persuasion — even if both salesperson and buyer know your offering is the best choice.

It’s not easy — if persuasion were simple, far more than one-third of all salespeople would make quota. But adopting the techniques below can make you more convincing, and influence prospects to buy.

This guide is divided into four sections. Use the table of contents below to quickly navigate to each:

1) Quick Tips

2) Conversational Pointers

3) Timeless Advice

4) Psychological Hacks

Important note: Salespeople should not sell prospects unless they’re confident the product or service will benefit them. Persuading someone to reach a mutually beneficial goal is one thing. Lying is another. Don’t cross the line.

Quick Tips: Persuasion Hacks

These four tips provide quick and easy ways to immediately boost your self-confidence and perceived authority.

1) Make the right amount of eye contact.

They say that eyes are the “windows to the soul” for a reason. Eye contact engenders a subconscious sense of connection. In a Cornell University study, researchers altered the eyes of the Trix cartoon rabbit on several boxes and then asked adults to choose one. Participants most frequently chose the box where the rabbit was looking directly at them.

How much eye contact is enough? According to body language expert Carol Kinsey Gorman, you should aim to make direct eye contact for 30% to 60% of your conversation.

2) Smile and dial. 

You won’t always be able to meet prospects in person. So it’s a good thing we are remarkably sensitive to vocal intonation even when we can’t see the speaker’s face. One study even showed that we’re able to identify different types of smiles based on audio alone

With this in mind, you’ll come across as more engaged and helpful if you smile during a conversation, and your prospects will be happier to talk to you.

Fun fact: Nestlé actually places a mirror at each salesperson’s station as a reminder to reps to smile while they dial.

Smiling can help your own state of mind as well. Research shows that even a forced smile decreases stress levels and makes you happier. So smile! It’s good for you, and people will respond positively to your enthusiasm and upbeat mood. 

3) Use “power poses” to increase your confidence.

“Fake it ’til you make it” is oft-given advice, but does faking it actually help you achieve your goals?

According to psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” it does. Cuddy conducted a study where she asked participants to stand in poses associated with high-power and low-power positions for two minutes.

Saliva tests revealed that the high-power group saw a 20% increase in testosterone levels, a hormone associated with confidence, and a 25% decrease in cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. The low-power group experienced a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisol.

When you’re confident, you inspire confidence in others. Your prospects don’t want to listen to a meandering, uncertain salesperson — they’re looking for an authoritative guide who can lead them through a confusing purchasing process.

So the next time you want to instill trust, strike a pose. High-power poses include standing up straight with your hands on your hips, leaning back in your chair with your feet on your desk, or sitting with your legs and arms spread. Low-power poses include sitting hunched over or shrinking in your chair.

You can see more high-power and low-power poses in the recording of Cuddy’s TED talk on the subject, starting at 10:40.

4) Nod at your prospect.

Like smiling, the physical act of nodding is so associated with agreement that it has measurable effects on opinion. Research shows that people who nodded while listening to a radio broadcast agreed with the broadcast’s content more than people who shook their heads or made no head movements while listening.

Because humans naturally mimic each other, your nods will likely be contagious and prime your prospect to say yes.

5) Use your hands.

If you’re meeting with the buyer face-to-face or over a web conferencing platform like Skype, use hand gestures. 

“Emblematic gestures, such as the OK sign or extending two fingers to signal two, are particularly helpful in aiding memory,” writes Richard O. Young, author of Persuasive Communication: How Audiences Decide.

One study found audience members remembered 34% of a message when the presenter used emblematic gestures, compared to just 5% when they didn’t use any gestures.

Conversational Tips: What to Say and How to Say It

The number of words you say in a sales conversation represents the number of opportunities you have to win that deal, so make every word count. Use these tactics to make sure you’re communicating the right way.

6) Use your prospect’s name.

Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. -Dale Carnegie

You should know all your prospects’ names and the names of their businesses. If you don’t, learn them. (Memory not your strong suit? Try out HubSpot’s free CRM to help keep track of all the prospects and deals you’re currently working.)

Not only is remembering (and using) your prospect’s name common courtesy, it also subtly reinforces your relationship and demonstrates that you respect them as a person, separate from your business dealings. It’s the reason a personalized “Hi, [recipient’s name here]” is becoming near ubiquitous in email marketing.

7) Sequence your questions strategically.

The best way to get somebody to agree with your argument is to make them think they thought of the idea first. That means understanding your prospect’s strengths and weaknesses as well as or better than they do, and asking questions designed to guide them to your proposed solution.

To do this, start with questions you know will be answered with a “yes.” This strengthens your prospect’s faith that you understand where they’re coming from, and gets them in the habit of agreeing with you. It also helps you build your case piece by piece, instead of having to stop and handle objections every five minutes.

Word your questions in a way that reinforces your product as the best choice. Instead of asking, “What’s the best way for you to improve [X part of your business]?”, emphasize the value of your product: “If you were to perform [X action enabled by your product] and it created [Y positive business result], would that be valuable for your team?”

A tip from the lawyers’ playbook: Once you’re past the initial discovery and solution-building stage of the sales process, avoid asking questions you don’t know the answers to. Instead, do enough upfront work so you know everything you need to know in order to anticipate and mitigate objections.

8) Mirror your prospect.

We naturally pick up the mannerisms and speech patterns of the people we spend a lot of time with. Why? It makes us more likable.

In one study, people were more likely to report positive feelings toward those who mirrored them. In addition, once a participant had been mirrored, they acted more favorably to people in general — even those who hadn’t been involved in the initial conversation.

While you should stop short of blatant imitation, be attuned to your prospect’s behavior, and calibrate yours accordingly. If they seem timid, don’t overwhelm them with exuberance, and vice versa.

9) Affirm your prospect’s concerns and questions.

There’s no such thing as a stupid question. When your prospect raises objections or asks for clarification, use language like, “I see where you’re coming from,” and “That’s a great question” to reassure them that they’re being heard and respected. 

10) Avoid putting prospects on the defensive with the Ransberger Pivot.

If a prospect misrepresents information you’ve provided or objects to one of your points, you have two options. You can respond with, “You’re wrong,” and put them on the defensive, or you can use the Ransberger Pivot to bring them around.

(Hint: go with the pivot.) 

Developed in 1982 by Ray Ransberger and Marshall Fritz, the Pivot is a three-step technique designed to positively address disagreement:

  1. Listen to your prospect’s objections.
  2. Understand your prospect’s objections, or ask questions until you do.
  3. Find a common goal in your prospect’s objections and convince them that your solution is the best way to achieve those goals.

For example, if your prospect raises concerns about your lengthy onboarding process because they want to hit the ground running, acknowledge their desire to see results as soon as possible. Then point out that while you’re fully supportive of their goals, they’ll be able to better achieve the desired outcomes if they spend the initial time upfront to learn every facet of your product.

11) Avoid filler words.

According to a study from call analytics platform TalkIQ, steering clear of filler words like “um” and “like” can lead to longer sales calls. 

“There was 30% less use of these words in longer calls than shorter calls,” explains TalkIQ CEO and cofounder Yon Nuta. 

Filler words make you sound less confident and credible. They’re also distracting, especially if you use them so often the buyer starts anticipating when you’ll say one next. 

Luckily, there’s a simple fix. Replace filler words with short pauses. Not only will you sound more self-assured, you’ll also give your prospect more time to digest your message.

Timeless Advice: How to Win Deals and Influence Prospects

In 1938, Dale Carnegie penned the now classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People. In this section, we’ve taken some of Carnegie’s best tips and given them a sales-focused spin.

12) Appeal to the nobler motives.

Maybe your prospect wants to make enough money to hire an additional employee so they can get a raise, or look good to their boss. And your offering can help them do just that.

But framing the entire sale as a salary or promotion play won’t get you very far. Even if you win over your contact, they certainly won’t be able to secure buy-in from decision makers by emphasizing how this purchase will help their individual position.

“A person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one,” Carnegie writes. “All of us, being idealists at heart, like to think of motives that sound good. So, in order to change people, appeal to the nobler motives.”

With this in mind, figure out your prospect’s real motivations for buying (or not), and repackage these intentions into a loftier cause.

13) Dramatize your ideas.

At its core, a closed-won deal is an exchange of money for a product or service.

Described this way, it sounds like one of the least interesting things in the world. But you know that a sale is more than that — it’s the promise of better outcomes for both you and your customer, and describing it this way is far more inspiring. 

At some point you’re going to have to make a business case, but your conversations shouldn’t exclusively focus on dollars and cents. Show your prospect what their business could be, and how your product will take them there.

14) Arouse an eager want.

A crucial part of winning people over, according to Carnegie, is to always appeal to what they want. Placing yourself at the center of a purchasing decision is the wrong strategy. 

Instead, step into your customer’s world and tap into their motivations. If you do this right, you hand your prospect a sense of empowerment.

As Carnegie put it, “Customers like to feel that they are buying, not being sold.”

Psychological Hacks: Using Science to Your Advantage

Inspired by this infographic from Everreach, the following tactics use psychology to persuade.

15) Scratch your prospects’ back.

Why? Because they’ll be more likely to scratch yours.

One study found that when waiters gave customers a complimentary mint, their tip increased 3%. Giving two mints saw a 14% increase. When the waiter left one mint, then turned around and said, “But for you nice people, here’s another mint,” his tip increased by 23%.

This is known as reciprocity. Going above and beyond for your prospects — especially with a bit of theater — will make them want to help you if they can.

16) Ramp up the urgency. 

People want things that are scarce. If you’re offering a discount or something else that your company provides on a limited basis, let your prospect know. Also make sure they’re aware of what they stand to lose if they don’t act soon.

17) Establish yourself as an expert.

It’s simple — people trust people who know what they’re talking about. Signal to your prospects that either you or your company (ideally both) are highly knowledgeable in their industry.

18) Ask for a small initial commitment.

People who have said “yes” once are likely to say “yes” again. It’s why so many technology companies offer free trials. Laying the groundwork with small asks also moves prospects closer to the ultimate “yes” — a signed contract. 

According to Everreach, people hoping to persuade would be wise to first seek “voluntary, active, and public commitments in writing.” In this way, you hook your prospects little by little, which makes the big decision at the end seem like a natural and foregone conclusion.

19) Make your prospects like you.

Nobody likes helping people they dislike. In one study, two groups of MBA students were asked to come to a mock business agreement. One group was told to skip all pleasantries, while the other was asked to identify one similarity each student shared with their negotiating partner. Fifty-five percent of the group that got straight down to business came to an agreeable solution, but 90% of the group that took time to find common ground were able to do so.

Remember — we’re all human. Establish a relationship with your prospect outside of the sale and your deal will likely be easier to close.

20) Use consensus to your advantage.

It’s not that we’re lemmings … but we’re kind of lemmings. People look to others’ behaviors to determine what’s socially acceptable and how they should act.

You can leverage this by using testimonials and case studies from happy clients in your sales collateral. You can also reference your total number of customers or following on social media to emphasize your company’s wide reach. 

But what if you only have one customer? Lean on reviews or assessments from industry experts. If you don’t have impressive numbers as of yet, it’s best to avoid them altogether.

21) Limit the number of choices you give your prospect.

It’s far harder for humans to make choices if we’re presented with too many options — a study by Columbia Business School professor Sheena Iyengar found that while more variety draws us in, it fails to convert interest into purchases. 

So be careful not to overwhelm your prospect. Even if your product comes in 37 colors or variations, start narrowing down that pool from the first conversation so you can present your prospect a much smaller, more manageable set of options.

Persuasion is a tricky skill to master. Changing someone’s mind isn’t an easy thing. But the right mix of the tactics above will get you at least one step (and hopefully many steps) closer to convincing your prospects you’re the sales rep they want to sign with.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales