The #1 Way to Respond to Any Question from a Prospect


You want your prospects to view you as a helpful expert. So when they ask a question, you should answer it immediately. Right?

Not so fast.

The number one most effective type of response isn’t an immediate one.

Implement this little-known technique, and you’ll stand out from your selling competition.

Introducing the Swim Move

If you’re a fan of football, you may already be familiar with the swim move. If not, I’ll break it down for you. When I was younger, I played football as a defensive lineman. This meant I often had to face off against offensive linemen who were much bigger than I was. To get past them, I couldn’t push right through. Instead, I’d use the swim move.

The swim move is a technique where the defensive lineman uses the offensive lineman’s own force against him. As a bigger, stronger offensive lineman rushed at me, I’d break around him and right through the line. I no longer play football, but I’ve learned how to apply this same strategy to close far more sales than ever before — and it works.

To learn more, check out the video below:

The Problem with Immediate Responses

Before we explore how to apply the swim move to your sales approach, let’s talk about why it’s so important. Imagine a prospect asks, “Do you come on site for the initial installation?”

Most salespeople would respond immediately, “Yes, of course I’ll be on site!”

This automatic response is actually one of the biggest mistakes salespeople make, since they don’t know why the prospect asked her question in the first place.

If the prospect wants her salesperson on site for the installation, this quick response does no harm. But what if the prospect is looking to do the installation herself and doesn’t want to be bothered by a salesperson in the office?

If you don’t understand the “why” before you answer a question, you could lose a sale. That’s where the swim move comes in.

Using the Swim Move in Sales

Let’s go back to our hypothetical question, “Do you come on site for the initial installation?” If you answer right away, you’re like the defensive lineman who rushes at the offensive lineman, ignoring the difference of size and strength. The swim move is key to figuring out the “why” behind the question so that you can answer appropriately.

Respond to questions with, “That’s a great question. Why do you ask that?”

The first sentence validates their question and makes them feel smart, while the second prompts them to reveal their intention.

Make sure you’re never using this technique to manipulate the prospect. In the case of our example question, you’re probably willing to be on site for installation but don’t need to be there. Once you understand what they prefer, you can adjust your answer and service to meet their needs—ultimately closing more sales by putting the customer first.

Have you ever misunderstood a client’s intentions when answering a question? What was the result? Share your experiences in the comments below. Check out this free 1-Minute Sales Strengths-Finder Quiz to transform your sales strategy even more.

HubSpot CRM


The 15-Second Intro That'll Make Your Sales Conversations 10X More Successful


A great sales call depends on what we at Sandler Training call an up-front contract. If you’re not familiar with the term, an up-front contract is an agreement, made ahead of time, about what will take place during a meeting or discussion — an agreement that clarifies what each person’s role in the conversation will be. In the inbound selling world, this contract unfolds in seconds.

Up-Front Contracts

To understand why the upfront contract is so essential, remember only one person can lead the discussion: The buyer or the seller. Obviously, you want to be the one leading the dance. The up-front contract is what allows you to do that.

To use the technique successfully, follow these three simple steps.

1) Show Appreciation and Set a Time Limit

Thank the inbound caller for his time and say how long you expect this call to take. Buyers will become irritated if they expect a five-minute discussion, only to realize it’s going to take far longer. Have you ever gotten one of those emails asking you to do a survey that will “only take a few minutes of your time,” and then abandoned it around question #48? That’s not how you want the prospect to feel.

If this is an outreach call, tell the person how much time is needed before the first decision. If this is an inbound call, say how much time you will need to tell them about the offer. Notice that you clarify how long the call will take before you move on to the next steps below. The goal here is simple: Make the caller feel comfortable.

You might say, “Thanks for getting on the call today, [prospect’s name]. This should take around 20 minutes.”

2) Provide an Agenda

Explain in a sentence or two what the call will go over and what your roles will be. An example might be, “We’re going to discuss your current methods for detecting spyware.”

3) Describe the Potential Outcomes

The up-front contract gives your prospect the chance to continue the sales conversation or walk away. Make sure you tell the buyer if she doesn’t like what she hears, it’s perfectly okay to tell you “no.” You’ll accept the answer and go away.

Giving your prospect the option of hanging up may be the most important part of the up-front contract. If you don’t explicitly accept this possibility, in clear, easy-to-understand terms, this strategy will not work — because the caller won’t feel in control of the call. By giving the buyer “control” over whether or not to hang up — which they actually already possessed — you gain their confidence, trust, and respect. You’ll also get the opportunity to define the rules that will drive the call going forward.

To illustrate, you could say, “By the end of the meeting, if you don’t feel like our services could solve your network downtime issues, I’ll hang up and won’t bother you. But if you feel like they could potentially help, are you open to scheduling another call?”

Up-Front Contract Example

Once you put it all together, here’s what an up-front contract sounds like.

  1. (Appreciation and Time) [Prospect name], thanks for agreeing to meet today. Can I take three minutes …
  2. (Agenda) … to give you some recommendations on [improving X] at [prospect’s company]? And then, iIf you have no further interest …
  3. (Outcomes) … you can hang up, but if you do have interest, let’s have another meeting.

Notice how concise this is. You do not have time for long monologues at the beginning of an sales call.

An up-front contract allows you to win half the battle within the first few seconds of the conversation. Wait to hear what the inbound caller says. Once you get agreement — which you will, 95% of the time or more — you can start the conversation in earnest.

HubSpot Free Sales Training


8 Voicemail Techniques That Lead to Closed Deals


A major portion of B2B sales phone prospecting calls will end up going to voicemail. For that reason, getting your best results depends on solid voicemail techniques.

When it comes to voicemail messages, here are eight tips that’ll transform your strategy — and ultimately, your prospects’ responses.

1) Go in with the right expectations

I often hear salespeople complain prospects never return their calls after they’ve left a voicemail. That means the salesperson expects the prospect to call them back if she’s interested.

So when no one calls back, their expectations are not met — and they think either their product isn’t in-demand, or they are not a good salesperson. Neither of these conclusions are correct. In reality, the rep’s expectations were off.

Prospects (especially decision makers) are extremely busy and get a large volume of calls, emails, and voicemails from people trying to sell them something. If they listen to and return calls from people they don’t know, their productivity suffers.

Don’t get frustrated when the prospect does not call you back, and don’t factor that into how interested you think they are.

2) Use a mix of voicemail messages and calls with no messages

Plan when you’ll leave a message and when you’ll hang up without leaving one. For example, if you’re calling a prospect multiple times in one week, you might leave a message on every fifth attempt. If you’re spreading out your calls, try leaving a voicemail every one to two weeks.

Varying your touches makes you seem less pushy. This technique also makes it easier to leave a unique voicemail each time.

3) Educate the prospect

The goal of most voicemails is getting the prospect to call back.

“Hello [prospect], this is [name] from [company] and we provide [services]. I would like to schedule a meeting with you to see if you need what we provide. Please give me a call back at your earliest convenience at [phone number].”

Try changing that goal to educating the prospect on why they should talk with you.

“Hello [prospect], this is [name] from [company].

I’m calling because we find many [prospect’s job title] have challenges with:

  • Common pain point #1
  • Common pain point #2
  • Common pain point #3

I will try you again next week. If you would like to reach me in the meantime, my number is [number].

Again, this is [name] calling from [company]. Thank you, and I look forward to talking with you soon.”

4) Don’t use salesy messaging

Your prospect receives a lot of calls, emails, and voicemails from salespeople. Make your message stand out by decreasing its “salesiness”:

  • Don’t use jargon or buzzwords.
  • Avoid clichés, such as, “Are you interested in saving X?”
  • Don’t directly state your goal of wanting to schedule a meeting where you intend to try to sell to them, such as “I’d like to schedule a brief meeting with you to discuss your needs in [business area].”
  • Mention a unique fact about your prospect’s company or objectives.

5) Don’t talk about your products and company in your message.

Minimize how much you talk about your product, services, and company in your voicemail. Remember, this isn’t the time to convince them to buy: You’re attempting to provoke interest in a conversation.

Instead of talking about what you sell, talk about the improvements you make, the problems you fix, examples of how you helped, the ways you differ, the ROI you deliver, and so on.

6) Leave different messages every time

You have many powerful details and anecdotes to share with the prospect — far too many to share in one message. Highlight a new fact or theme every time.

Here is a sample sequence of talking points:

  • Message #1: Share pain points that your customers often have
  • Message #2: Share improvements you’re frequently responsible for
  • Message #3: Share an example of how you helped a person or business
  • Message #4: Share details around the ROI that you usually deliver
  • Message #5: Share ways that you differ from your competitors

7) Follow every voicemail with an email

Always send your prospect an email after you’ve left a voicemail. This allows prospects to visually see your name and company and click a link to go to your website for more information. In addition, it’s easier for prospects to reply to emails than voicemails — and they can save emails for future reference.

8) Don’t hand over the responsibility of calling back

To stay in control of the sales process, don’t ask the prospect to call you back. I say something like:

“I will try you again next week. If you want to reach me before then, my number is [phone number].”

This maintains forward momentum and provides a higher level of service, since you’re not asking the prospect to do anything.

Those are a few of my tips for improving your B2B prospecting voicemails. I hope this helps you connect with prospects, get your foot in the door of new accounts, and improve your sales results.

HubSpot Free Sales Training


8 Powerful Phrases That Will Increase Your Influence [Infographic]


Charisma is hard to define — but when someone has charisma, it’s obvious. Charismatic salespeople have a significant advantage over their competition, since prospects are far likelier to engage with them, respect their guidance, and listen to their pitch.

One of the simplest ways to become more charismatic is changing your vocabulary. The following phrases are are powerful in isolation; use them together, and their effects will be even stronger.

Click here to jump straight to the infographic version we created with 24Slides.

1) “Tell me more.”

Traditional sales calls can feel like interrogations if you’re not careful. Charismatic salespeople avoid this issue by responding to their prospects with phrases like:

  • “Tell me more.”
  • “I see.”
  • “Go on.”

These simple, neutral replies show the rep is listening and encourages the buyer to open up. They also avoid prompting the buyer to give a certain response, unlike leading questions such as, “Do you think that strategy is working?”

2) “It’s like … ”; “It’s as though … ”

There’s a reason writers rely on similes, metaphors, and analogies: These devices make your pitch more memorable and engaging.

See the difference:

Before: “Our tool helps you find and connect with passive candidates approximately three months before they start looking for a job.”

After: “Our tool helps you find and connect with passive candidates approximately three months before they start looking for a job. It’s like you’re starting a marathon an hour before the next racer.”

Coming up with a great figure of speech on the spot is hard to do, so once you find some that work, keep using them.

3) “No”; “yes”

Charisma and confidence go hand-in-hand. Next time you’re answering a close-ended question, fight the urge to over-explain: Simply saying “yes” or “no” will make you seem far more sure of yourself.

If your prospect wants more information, they’ll request it. This subtly puts you in a position of power. Furthermore, you’ll avoid rambling — which tends to lessen your charisma.

Here’s an example of this tactic:

Prospect: “Do you service the Midwest?”

Rep: “Yes.”

Prospect: “Great, how many distribution centers do you have in the region?”

Rep: “Three.”

4) “One of my customers … ”

Storytelling and charisma go hand-in-hand. People are usually most spell-bound when they’re absorbing a story, whether it’s a TV show, podcast, movie, play, book, or speech.

That’s why customer case studies have enormous power in the sales process. Use them to bring the value of your product to life for your prospects and show them how similar they are to its current users.

Narratives from your personal experience can also amp up your charisma (although be careful to maintain professionalism).

For example, if the buyer is struggling with his business’s payroll system, you might tell a humorous story about the time your former company’s system crashed right before taxes were due.

Not only will you win credibility, you’ll liven up the call.

5) “I’m excited about … ”

Charismatic people show their emotions “spontaneously and genuinely,” according to Ronald E. Riggio, author of “The Charisma Quotient: What It Is, How to Get It, How to Use It.”

Others naturally pick up on those feelings, which makes them feel closer to the charismatic person and more comfortable expressing their own feelings.

With that in mind, share your emotions — both positive and negative. When you’re enthusiastic about an opportunity for the buyer, say, “I’m excited about the chance you have to do X … ”

And when they give you a dismaying piece of news, say, “I’m disappointed to hear Y … ” or “It upsets me that … ”

Just make sure you don’t go too far: If you’re always mentioning how you feel or claiming to feel things you don’t, you’ll come across as unprofessional or inauthentic.

6) “To recap … ”

Repetition is a powerful device. Unsurprisingly, people better remember information the more often they hear it. Less intuitively, they’re also likelier to believe it.

If you have a specific fact or argument you really want to drive home, try saying it at the beginning and end of your sales call.

To give you an idea, you might say at the start: “The right Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will improve virtually every aspect of your hiring results.”

You’d end the call with, “To recap, implementing an ATS will improve your company’s hiring efforts across the board.”

7) “Imagine … ”

Charismatic salespeople use hypothetical situations — especially ones that place the buyer front-and-center — to captivate and convince their audience.

For instance, a rep might ask her prospect to imagine a world where she meets her objectives in half the time. He’ll immediately want to reach this future state — making him more receptive to her pitch.

“Suppose,” “pretend,” “what if … ”and “envision” are also strong options for creating a vision in the buyer’s mind.

8) “Great question, I’m glad you asked.”

A rep with lots of charisma typically welcomes her prospects’ questions. She knows the safer the buyer feels asking for information or clarifying a detail, the likelier he is to trust her.

As an added benefit, this response subtly boosts her prospect’s ego. Who doesn’t like coming up with an insightful question?


HubSpot Free Sales Training


3 Ways Your Qualifying Questions Are Destroying Your Buyer's Trust


Your time is valuable. Every precious minute you spend with a prospect who will never be a viable buyer is a minute you’ve wasted. You need to qualify prospects to make sure they’re serious, not just price shopping or browsing.

The problem is that empowered prospects are impatient with your qualifying questions. They’ve done some research and are talking with you to get their own questions answered. Some of your questions might seem intrusive or premature. HubSpot Research’s study on buyer perceptions revealed there’s a wide gap between your sales process and your prospect’s buying process.

To gather the necessary information without alienating your prospect, you have to strike a delicate balance between understanding their needs and qualifying their ability to purchase. If you flub this balance, you might lose the deal. The number one thing buyers want sellers to do differently is provide information and answer questions in a relevant and timely manner. If you’re perceived as doing anything less, buyers begin to question your trustworthiness.

As you work to qualify prospects and protect your time, avoid these three mistakes.

1) Asking purely self-serving questions

Your questions about the prospect’s needs are welcome and appreciated. Conversely, questions about the prospect’s ability to buy seem self-serving, especially if they come in rapid-fire succession.

There are, of course, certain things you need to know. Is this the decision maker? Who else will be involved in making the decision? What’s the timeline? What’s the budget? What’s the current solution? What other options are being considered?

There’s no shame in needing this information. But the way you ask matters a great deal. Questions that are buyer-focused signal that you care about the prospect. Questions that seem process-focused make the buyer feel marginalized. To get these details without seeming untrustworthy:

  • Explain the purpose for your questions in a way that shows prospects your desire to help them. Say something like, “I know your time is very valuable, and I have just a few questions that will ensure the best possible attention to your needs.”
  • Mix up your questions. Start with a broad, open-ended question to understand the prospect’s needs. You’ll get lots of insight and may even get some of your qualifying questions answered, too. Your opening question will sound something like this: “Let’s get started by talking about your current business needs. What’s going on that led to your interest in (our product)?”
  • Combine your questions so there are fewer of them. Try “Tell me about the process and where you are in your process for making a decision about this,” or “When it comes to all the variables like price, timeline, decision criteria, and such, what are the ideal outcomes you’re looking for?”

2) Being inflexible

True story: At a large, well-known software solutions provider, SDRs are only paid when they set appointments with the true decision maker who has budget authority and final say. A sure-thing purchase in the high six figures was recently lost when an SDR refused to set up a next-steps meeting with a VP, insisting the CEO would have to be present. She was unwilling to accept the VP’s explanation the CEO would take his recommendation and never, under any circumstances, met directly with vendors. This VP went from being a rabid fan of the software to a bitterly disappointed customer of the competition.

This is a classic case of process interfering with progress.

If your processes require you to ascertain where the prospect is located, how much the prospect will likely spend, the number of users the prospect is considering, or other bucketing information, consider how this sounds to the prospect. People want to be treated with dignity, not sorted.

Sellers also lose trust when they’re unable to answer basic technical questions and insist on setting an appointment with someone else. This happens, for example, when SDRs push for demos with the technical team and an account manager. To buyers who only want to get their questions answered, this often seems like a ploy to ensnare them in a thinly veiled sales pitch.

Strive to answer the prospect’s questions in a timely manner and provide basic information without requiring a full demo. Don’t let internal roadblocks stop you from closing deals.

3) Implying someone’s not worth your time

There’s an inherent problem with the question, “Are you the decision maker?”

It suggests that you can’t be bothered with someone who is not a decision maker. For a prospect who has been appointed as information gatherer, it may suggest that you’re about to cut them off without giving them what they need.

Buyers often answer in partial truths. Some don’t want to admit their lack of authority. Others have been asked to stand in for the decision maker at this early stage and will represent themselves that way until it’s truly time for a decision. Increasingly, committees of decision makers are appointed but not revealed to sellers until absolutely necessary. It’s not uncommon to have layers of decision making — the person you speak to first truly is the decision maker, but only for this phase of the process. And so on.

This question really doesn’t do you much good. You risk offending the prospect and operating on incorrect information. Asking someone about their own authority builds barriers between you and makes it more difficult to establish mutual trust.

Instead, treat the prospect like the ultimate decision maker. Demonstrate that you’re on the same side and it’s normal and expected for others to be involved. Ask, “Who else should we keep in the loop as we proceed, and how can I make that easy for you?”

If you correct these three errors, you can qualify prospects without offending them or making them feel like you only care about getting their money.

HubSpot CRM

Source: 3 Ways Your Qualifying Questions Are Destroying Your Buyer's Trust

8 Ways to Start a Sales Call So Prospects Don't Hang Up On You


How do you feel when your phone rings and you realize you’re receiving a call from a salesperson?

For most business people, it’s interruptive, annoying, and distracting.

But if it’s your job to call prospects, you don’t have to fall into the category of “pesky sales rep.”

To kickstart a productive, professional conversation, you need a strong opening.

Your opening should do two things:

  1. Get the prospect into a receptive frame of mind
  2. Make it easy for them to make a positive decision

Here are eight call openings will engage the prospect so they don’t immediately hang up.

1) “My research shows that your company is in the process of … ”

This shows you are interested in them and you’ve spent some time finding a reason for calling. It also shows you aren’t trying to sell them something right away.

2) “One of my clients, [name] at [company], mentioned to me you are [looking for, might be a good fit for] … ”

Talking about a mutual connection gives you instant credibility. Your prospect will be curious to know why his contact thought he might need your product or service.

3) “I was looking at your LinkedIn company profile, and saw that one of your major projects this year is … ”

Referencing their LinkedIn page and company goals proves you’re interested in discussing something of value to them rather than just pushing your products and services.

4) “We’ve been working with a couple of similarly sized companies within your industry, and they are experiencing two major problems. I wondered whether they were causing you concern as well … ”

This piques your prospect’s interest, as they will be wondering what those problems are, and whether they are facing them too.

5) “I read your [Twitter, Facebook] post the other day about … ”

This opening tells the buyer you’ve done your homework and are calling about a relevant and timely topic.

6) “I see your [annual report, newsletter] was released on your website last week, and it’s looking like you’re expanding your operations in … ”

Reading their marketing materials reveals genuine interest in their company. It also implies your recommendations will be pertinent and helpful.

7) “[Name], in reading your company blog, I noticed that you’ve had some good reviews from customers on your new [product] and I was wondering … ”

Your interest in their blog can open new doors to discuss results that your products have achieved for other clients.

8) “[Prospect], I was speaking to one of your business managers yesterday and he said that a growing part of your business is through [product, niche, market]. As that’s the case, I can … ”

Bringing up your prospect’s coworker tells them to take you seriously, while focusing the discussion on an emerging revenue source ensures you’re talking about a company priority.

These openings highlight the prospect’s business before even mentioning what product or service you represent. Simply calling and listing what your company sells is a sure-fire way to get the phone slammed down.

The purpose of a connect call should always be demonstrate your professionalism, credibility, and expertise.

When you do that, you give the prospect a reason to at the very least discuss options with you, making it likelier the call will end the way you’d like — with a second call scheduled.

If you’d like some additional help with your calling technique, then please download our free report “100 Ways To Improve Your Sales Success” or visit my sales blog.

HubSpot Free Sales Training

Source: 8 Ways to Start a Sales Call So Prospects Don't Hang Up On You

3 Ways Top Sellers Break Through Resistance


As sellers, we must immediately break down prospect resistance by creating a great first impression. Yet most salespeople fail to do so — repelling buyers and making them think, “It’s a salesperson, how do I get them off the phone?”

The best reps know what they’re facing each time they call and have developed repeatable strategies for dispelling resistance. Here are three tactics they use.

1) Cut the clichés

Most sellers open their calls with clichés, immediately turning off their prospects.

These are the most buyer-repellent statements I hear in my coaching work:

  • How are you today?
  • Is this a good time to talk?
  • Could I have a few minutes of your time?
  • I was wondering if maybe you would be interested in …
  • This is (name) and I’m calling to tell you about … (followed by a 2-minute monologue)
  • I’ll only take a minute of your time.
  • I’d like to talk to you about … 
  • I think that I can …
  • Are you looking for ways to become more profitable?
  • I have a product that can save you money.
  • I’m in the business of making our customers more successful.
  • I create partnerships with our buyers to help them save money on …
  • I want to show you how we would help you …
  • I know we can save you time and money.

Cutting the salesy statements will instantly increase your success rate because you are not creating resistance. This is especially true for the ubiquitous, “How are you?” Every buyer on the planet has heard that exact phrase at the beginning of a sales call they didn’t want to take. After my clients stop using this question on calls, they typically see a 25% jump in success.

When you call, your buyers are usually busy doing other work — which means you’re 99.9% likely to be interrupting them. Instead of ignoring this fact, use it to your advantage.

Try: “Mary? This is Colleen Francis. I know you weren’t expecting my call; have I caught you at a bad time?”

When it comes to receiving a sales call, it’s always a bad time, so it’s a refreshing change when the person who’s making the call recognizes this upfront. When we use this statement at the beginning of a call, we almost always get with the same answer: A laugh or chuckle, followed by either: “It’s always a bad time, but what’s up?” or “Sure it’s a bad time, why are you calling?”

The magic in this answer is that now it is the buyer’s choice that you’re on the phone with them — not yours. When a buyer feels like they’re being held hostage in a conversation, they tune out and start planning their escape. When it’s their choice the two of you are talking, however, they’re far more likely to listen to what you have to say and participate.

2) Switch your focus

Sales calls are about the buyer — not about you. If the buyer hears the word “I” first, they think, “Who cares what you want? What about me?” 

Your buyer is focused on what’s in it for them, so give it to them right up front.

Try some of the following ideas:

  • If you’re calling because of a referral, use the reference’s name first, as in: “Colleen Francis suggested we talk.”
  • If it’s a follow-up call, remind them what they wanted you to do: “The last time we spoke, you asked me to call today with pricing information.”
  • If this is an outreach call and you don’t have a reference, build a third-party story focused on people like your buyer, such as: “CIOs like yourself have been pleased with the security our product offers from email viruses. They’ve told me that … Is that important to you?”
  • If you don’t know who you should be talking to, try a question, like: “Maybe you can help me?” People usually have a difficult time refusing help when they’re asked for it, so make sure you use that word.
  • If you reach the gatekeeper of a client you’ve had a hard time contacting, try: “Maybe you can help me? I’ve been trying to reach Ms. Francis for a week now with no luck. Do you know if there’s a best time to find her in her office?”

3) Drop the assumptions

Be careful about making broad claims — buyers who don’t know you will instinctively poke them for holes.

Many will react with: “You don’t even know me. How do you know you can do that? You have no idea what you’re talking about, so I’m going to argue with you and then get rid of you.”

Replace assumptive language with examples and questions, such as:

“Mary, business owners like you tell me that we’ve been able to save them money on their printing costs. Depending on your printing requirements, it might be possible that we can do the same for you. Can we discuss your printing requirements now?”

Ultimately, you can build a relationship and avoid creating resistance by focusing on two key things going into a call:

  1. The buyer’s needs and goals (versus your own)
  2. Starting a conversation (rather than trying to sell)

These two areas will help you relax and project an open, friendly demeanor. Instead of encountering resistance, you’ll get a warm response.

HubSpot Free Sales Training


5 Reasons Your Objection-Handling Skills Suck


Almost every prospect has objections — and most have several. It’s difficult enough to change someone’s mind when money isn’t on the table, so doing so when the outcome has a financial impact is really tough.

If you’re not a skilled objection-handler, your ability to close will pay the price (literally). You might suspect you’re not good at resolving objections … but why? Here are five potential reasons.

1) You think you can “win” an objection.

When your prospect starts a sentence with “But”, do you immediately go into “fight” mode? I don’t blame you: It’s easy to think of every objection as an obstacle you have to defeat before getting to the end.

However, this aggressive approach won’t do you any favors. Prospects don’t want to argue with you or feel like they’re being persuaded against their will. Most of the time, you’ll actually end up convincing them they’re right. Even if they do cede in the moment, their objection will bubble up again at the crucial closing stage.

Reframe your perspective on objections — think of them as an opportunity to correct any misinformation your prospect has or simply give them new details they’re not aware of.

If you work with them versus against them, you’ll actually have a shot of resolving their concerns.

2) You treat every objection equally.

Some objections are legitimate blockers. Others are brush-offs disguised as objections. It’s your job to differentiate them so you know how to respond.

That’s harder than it sounds, because an excuse given at the beginning of the sales process might be a real objection when it’s voiced a little later.

For example, if your prospect says on the connect call, “We don’t have the budget for this right now,” they may be blowing you off.

But if you’re discussing pricing and they say, “I love the product, but our budget is being halved and my director says we can’t buy anything over X amount,” you’re probably dealing with a real objection.

The latter deserves a real response. If you can’t find a solution, you should walk away. But if you’re hit with a brush-off, find a way to continue the conversation so you can prove to the buyer the value of your product.

3) You don’t prepare for objections.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. You should know in advance which potential objections you’ll hear before every sales call — and not only that, you should have responses ready to go.

Doing this in advance means you won’t be lost for words when the actual call rolls around.

How do you know which objections you’ll likely hear? Compare your prospect to similar ones based on budget, company size, product type, priorities and challenges, and/or location. Review your CRM notes to see which objections have come up with those prospects. To take it one step further, note which responses you used and whether you closed those deals.

4) You don’t proactively address objections.

It’s never a good idea to let your prospect stew over their objections for days, weeks, or even months. If you address their objection when it’s newly formed, you’ll have a much better shot of convincing them otherwise. The longer you wait, the stronger that concern becomes in their mind.

For that reason, ask for objections at every step of the sales process. Doing so is simple — just use any of these questions:

  • “Is there anything you see standing in the way of [company] buying [product]?”
  • “What do you see as potential obstacles to this [partnership, purchase]?”
  • “Which concerns do you have at this point?”
  • “You seem to have some reservations about [price, use case, functionality, etc.] Do you want to talk about it?”

Not only will you get valuable insight into your prospect’s decision making criteria, you’ll also earn their trust and respect by being direct.

5) You’re not honest.

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make around objection-handling: Fudging the truth. It’s always tempting to gloss over a buyer’s concerns with an answer that’s slightly untrue — for example, if your prospect says, “I don’t think the solution can help us with X,” you might say, “Our engineers are actually working on a feature for that right now.”

Your prospect ends up buying, you get commission … What’s the problem?

Well, when the months go by and the promised feature doesn’t show up — or they discover the product doesn’t do what you said, or it’s less powerful than you implied, and so on — they’ll be pissed.

Pissed customers cancel. Not only that, they tell their colleagues not to buy your product. And that’s how you poison a well of revenue.

If any — or several — of these poor objection-handling habits sound familiar, commit yourself to improving immediately. As your skills improve, you’ll see the effects on your win rate.

HubSpot CRM

Source: 5 Reasons Your Objection-Handling Skills Suck

Who's Better at Selling: Men or Women? Data From 30,469 Sales Calls


Women “listen” less than men. Women interrupt their customers more than men.

In fact, by every measure so far, men follow “the rules of selling” better than women do … at least on paper.

Recently, our data science team at Gong sat down to analyze how men and women sell differently. And I must admit, I’m a bit stumped by the results so far.

Despite the “sins of selling” listed above, women are still managing to close deals at a higher rate.

After you check out the results, I’d love for you to help me figure out why this is happening in the comments below.

How we got the data: Analyzing 30,469 segmented sales calls with AI

Before I jump in, let me outline how we did this.

30,469 B2B sales calls were recorded, speaker-separated, transcribed, and analyzed using Gong’s self-learning conversation analytics engine.

All of the calls that were analyzed were pulled from companies that are highly similar to each other  — same industry, similar sales cycle lengths and deal sizes, etc.

Further, while we couldn’t guarantee all of the sales reps had similar backgrounds and experience (realizing that’s a key part to this story), the analysis was done on fully on-boarded reps rather than new sellers.

Here are the patterns we’ve found (so far).

Who “listens” better: Men or women?

If you look at the data (and nothing else), you would conclude that men listen better than women.

In the analysis, men on average had a 42:58 talk-to-listen ratio, while women averaged 46:54, talking 9% more often than men.


Not a huge difference. But wait, there’s more …

Men interrupt their prospect an average of 4.2x per hour. Women? 6.3x per hour — about 50% more often.

Men also pause before responding longer than women on average: 1.5 seconds versus 1.3 seconds.

And finally, women tend to go on “monologues” longer (and more often) than men do. By “monologue,” I mean an uninterrupted streak of talking without the customer chiming in.

When men go off on a monologue, they average 116 seconds. Women average 130 seconds.


If you’ve spent much time in the sales profession, you’d start to conclude that men are the superior salespeople after looking at this data.

Which is why the next data point wracked my brain …

Women are closing more deals

Even though the above data paints women as lousy listeners, women progress deals to the next opportunity stage at a higher rate than men do.

They also close deals at a higher and faster rate than men.

In our data set, men had a 49% likelihood of moving opportunities to the next stage, while women boasted 54%.

And women’s win rates were 11% higher than men’s (on average).


Unpacking the implications

Now that I just data-dumped you, let’s think about what this could mean.

Science consists of both the quantitative (data), and qualitative aspects of a problem. One without the other doesn’t tell the full story.

In this case, the quantitative side of the story is looking at sales conversation analytics.
The qualitative side of the story is listening to sales call recordings or observing salespeople live to investigate what’s going on and flesh out the rest of the story.

So, how are women breaking some of the traditional rules of selling, yet still getting more deals done?

Despite the fact that the data paints men as better listeners than women, for all we know, men could be twiddling their thumbs, thinking about something else entirely while they’re supposed to be listening to their customer.

Silence is not the same thing as listening.

Rambling vs. persuading

Tonni Bennett, VP of Sales at Terminus, had an interesting observation to offer. She provided an example that highlights how quantitative data only tells half of the story. It’s important to also understand the quality of the call.

She once had two reps that both talked too much on calls: A male and a female.

When the male talked too much, he rambled on in a way that derailed the conversation and hurt his credibility. He would often answer simple “yes/no questions” with a long-winded response that sparked more questions from the prospect.

While the woman also talked too much, she was usually making persuasive, strong selling points or sharing a customer story instead of rambling and going off on tangents.

Tossing nerf balls around the office

Another female sales leader I know made the observation that she often sees men tossing around nerf footballs while on the phone with their customers.

How often do you see women doing something like that?

Your observations

While there could be hundreds of other qualitative explanations of this, I’d like to save them for the comments. Help me unpack this. What are your qualitative explanations of this data? Write your observations or thoughts below.

And if you thought this analysis was interesting, please share this so other sales pros may stumble upon this research.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on and is republished here with permission.

HubSpot CRM


3 Ways for Outside Sales Reps to Master Inside Sales Skills


Even in field sales, prospects don’t want to have a first meeting with a stranger in person. They prefer an introductory phone call. If things go well, they’re open to the idea of a face-to-face meeting.

This creates an interesting scenario for outside salespeople. While they aren’t going extinct – certain industries will always require outside sales — they do need to learn how to become highly competent inside salespeople for the first call.

Read on to see what my company, Sapper Consulting, has learned from scheduling thousands of sales meetings every month on behalf of hundreds of clients.

The Benefits of Virtual Connect Calls

Running virtual intro calls has several benefits. First, reps don’t need to constantly cross the country for meetings that are often rescheduled. Anyone who has ever worked in field sales knows this struggle all too well.

Let’s say you schedule a meeting in Milwaukee and leave the house at 4 a.m. with the perfect Spotify playlist downloaded for offline use, only to find when you find that your meeting has been rescheduled. Your entire day has been wasted.

This approach also helps you set more introductory meetings. If your company insists on sticking with face-to-face meetings, your whole outside sales team’s opportunity set will decrease. I know, I know: Your closing rate goes up when you meet people in person.

But you’ll miss lots of opportunities by ignoring prospects with no interest in meeting strangers in the flesh. Plus, if you push for a face-to-face meeting, you may look desperate.

How to Sharpen Your Inside Sales Skills

Phone sales and in-person sales require different skill sets. It’s like playing poker online versus in person. Online, you can’t physically see the other players, so you need to pay careful attention to bet sizing and incorporate more math into your strategy.

In person, you pick up on physical tells. You can also talk casually to learn information that might help you out later. When you go from playing online to in person, you still use the math skills you’ve sharpened from playing online so much. The same thing is true in sales. On the phone you can’t see your prospect, so you get good at recognizing voice inflection, managing silence, and so on.

If you’re used to working strictly with outside sales, how do you take the leap and master inside sales skills, too? Here are a few ways to get started.

1) Practice with role-plays

The best way to practice phone sales is to role-play on the phone. I see lots of sales teams practice phone meetings while sitting across the table from one another. This is a mistake. You can’t master your phone skills if you’re still bringing your in-person skills into play during practice sessions. Practice like you play, and record those practice sessions so you can ask for plenty of verbal and written feedback from your team and your manager. That feedback will help you consistently improve.

2) Master a consistent, effective sales call process

Your company should implement a consistent sales call process to which you and your co-workers are held accountable. The last thing you want to do is confuse a sales call process with a sales process. There’s a big difference, which is why you need a blueprint to follow when converting from a pure outside sales role to one with some inside sales requirements. Without it, it’s easy to feel lost.

3) Ask for a demo

There is nothing we salespeople hate more than being told to do something we haven’t seen done. It makes us wonder if it’s even possible. If your boss isn’t the kind of person who can get on the phone and perform an amazing intro call, seek out a salesperson who can.

Being dubious is understandable — you’ve probably had your compensation plan changed, your territory shifted, and your commission clawed back. So if you’re struggling with the idea of confidently learning to make an intro phone call, ask to watch someone who can. If your job asks you to master these skills, it should be something the higher-ups at your company can do, too.

Outside sales positions will never go away completely, but with the insane growth happening for inside sales roles, you need to have skills in both arenas. It can feel intimidating to learn a whole new skill set, but these tips will help.

Free Sales Training from HubSpot Academy

Source: 3 Ways for Outside Sales Reps to Master Inside Sales Skills