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

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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
blog.hubspot.com/sales

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

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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
blog.hubspot.com/sales

3 Ways Top Sellers Break Through Resistance

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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


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

5 Reasons Your Objection-Handling Skills Suck

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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
blog.hubspot.com/sales

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

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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 ThinkGrowth.org and is republished here with permission.

HubSpot CRM


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

3 Ways for Outside Sales Reps to Master Inside Sales Skills

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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
blog.hubspot.com/sales

The Optimal Length of Sales Calls, According to the Data

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True or false: A 30-minute connect call is less likely to lead to a deal than a 60-minute connect call.

Before we get to the answer, here’s some context.

The Gong.io team analyzed 30,000 calls between salespeople and their prospects. These calls varied in length, but the most popular times (unsurprisingly) were 30 minutes and an hour.

So, which call length was the most effective for getting a follow-up call — and eventually, closing the deal?

It turns out, there’s no statistical correlation between call length and probability of closing. We asked you a trick question.

But that doesn’t mean call length doesn’t have an impact. Here are three things to consider.

1) Shorter Calls Are Better

According to Gong’s analysis, prospects are 12% likelier to show up to the first call if it’s scheduled for a half hour rather than a full one. This makes sense. People are busy, so asking them to commit an entire hour to you is risky — especially considering you’ve never spoken to them before.

Likelihood-of-the-prospect-showing-up-the-1st-meeting-1-1024x633.pngSource: Gong.io

With that in mind, opt for shorter connect calls. You shouldn’t be presenting your product features on the first call, anyway — this time should be reserved for building the relationship and asking initial qualifying and discovery questions.

2) End When Planned

What if you’re having a great conversation? Should you let the call go over? Sales trainer and consultant Jeff Hoffman says you should always end when planned.

It makes your time seem less valuable if you can talk for 20 or 30 more minutes than you’d allocated, Hoffman explains. You want to appear highly in-demand — not only will your prospect trust you more, but they’re likelier to view you as a peer.

When you’re getting close to the scheduled end of the call, say something like, “[Prospect], this has been great. I have another call at [time] — do you want to pick up where we left off on [date and time] or [alternate date and time]?”

Hoffman says you can even propose a later time that day, if the buyer is really enthusiastic. Just make sure you’re wrapping up when you’re supposed to.

3) Use the Right Words

Make your call feel less time-consuming to prospects by describing it as “quick,” “short,” or “intro.” They’ll subconsciously perceive it as a smaller commitment.

For example, you might write, “Do you have time for a quick call to connect on Thursday at 2 p.m.?” or “Are you available for 15 minutes this afternoon to briefly discuss X and Y?”

The more painless your request sounds, the likelier prospects are to agree.

Although call length might not have a direct correlation to your close rate, it definitely has an influence. Pick the optimal amount of time, don’t let your meeting go over, and use the right adjectives when you ask.

Free Sales Training from HubSpot Academy

Source: The Optimal Length of Sales Calls, According to the Data
blog.hubspot.com/sales

25 Qualifying Questions to Identify the Decision Maker

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There’s nothing more frustrating than getting your prospect’s commitment to buy — before realizing they’re not the decision maker. It’s going to take much longer to get the deal done than you’d anticipated (that is, if you close at all).

Salespeople experience this all the time. However, you can avoid the situation completely by asking the right questions during the discovery process.

The wrong way to ask is, “Are you the decision maker?” Everyone wants to feel important and valued, even if they’re not the ones signing on the dotted line. This question will make your point of contact feel unimportant. Sabotage this relationship, and you’ll lose their influence.

Use this list of 25 questions to figure out who’s the ultimate decision maker without stepping on any toes.

Qualifying Questions About the Decision Maker

  1. Who else is involved in this process?
  2. Who will be using the product? (If they say, “I will,” follow up with, “Is your manager reviewing this purchase as well? What will they be assessing?”)
  3. Which evaluation criteria are the other stakeholders using?
  4. What was the last product in this category you bought? Who was involved in buying it?
  5. What’s the purchase approval process like?
  6. Have you bought a product like this before? (If they say no, ask, “Would you like my help figuring out who to bring in, based on my experience selling to companies like yours?”)
  7. In the past, my customers have asked [job title] and [job title] to participate in this decision. Does that make sense for [prospect’s company]?
  8. Will any other teams or departments be using [product]? Will they want a say in the selection process?
  9. How have decisions like this been made previously?
  10. At the end of the day, how can I help you get this purchase approved?
  11. Is there anyone else I should be meeting with to get the full picture of how you and your colleagues will be using [product] and what your needs are?
  12. [Name], do you handle [product category] decisions for [prospect’s company]?
  13. I’ve found the person with [X responsibility] almost always wants a say in this decision. Should we bring them into this conversation?
  14. I’m sure you’ve seen first-hand how complex the average buying decision is these days. Let’s work together so [company] can start experiencing [specific benefit] as soon as possible. Who do we need to meet with?
  15. How does your [team, department, business] make buying decisions?
  16. Is there a committee assigned to choosing a [vendor, supplier, solution]?
  17. What’s your role in the decision making process?
  18. Should I be aware of any priorities or concerns from other stakeholders?
  19. Who will sign on the dotted line? Would you like any insights I’ve picked up on positioning the solution to people in [X role]?
  20. How long have you been looking into this type of solution, and why did you start? (Their answer will reveal if they’re a junior decision maker responsible for the initial supplier research.)
  21. With my other customers, it’s typically the case that [X professional] likes to share her thoughts. Should we invite her on the call?
  22. Would [likely decision maker] be interested in speaking to [person of matching rank at your company]? (This question helps you get to the budget authority if your prospect is reluctant to give you access.)
  23. Are you the sole owner of this [project, initiative, purchase]?
  24. How can I help you sell this internally?
  25. Do you need any materials from me to present this to your boss?

HubSpot CRM

Source: 25 Qualifying Questions to Identify the Decision Maker
blog.hubspot.com/sales

The Best Days and Times for Sales Meetings, According to New Data

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You just crushed a demo, you’re making good progress toward quota, and you’re ready to get on your next call and crush it, too.

But 10 minutes after the prospect is supposed to join the meeting, they still haven’t shown up. You’ve been no-showed.

Having a prospect flake isn’t just annoying — it’s also a big waste of time. Every second you spend twiddling your thumbs is a second you could have used to email a hot lead, follow up with a buyer who’s gone dark, or give a demo to someone who’s more interested.

You can reduce the likelihood of a no-show by qualifying more rigorously and setting an explicit agenda. But that’s not all: You can also book sales meetings at the right times.

Gong.io, a sales intelligence platform, analyzed sales calls to see which days of the week and times of days have the highest and lowest no-show rates.

The Best Times of the Day

Many experts recommend calling early to get in touch with decision makers before the gatekeeper shows up or while your contact is still relatively available. This advice still holds true for unscheduled calls — i.e., calls your prospects aren’t expecting.

However, if you’re scheduling a call or meeting, the crucial window is 2 to 5 p.m. Roughly 15.9% to 14.7% of calls in this time period lead to no-shows.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAzaAAAAJDM4ZmM5NWI4LWQ4YzctNGM3MS05OTBkLTc0ZWIzYzRlNmM2Yg.pngSource: Gong.io

Compare that to the morning, which has the highest no-show rate. The no-show rate is 19.09% at 8 a.m.

Clearly, your prospects are getting into the office, realizing they have a ton of stuff on their plate, and deciding to bail.

Gong.io’s data shows salespeople are scheduling too many calls in the morning and early afternoon rather than late afternoon.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAxHAAAAJGMyY2U0NmY2LTExMTEtNDg5OS05NGJiLTRlNmZhNmU4N2Q4ZA.pngSource: Gong.io

The Best Days of the Week

You might expect the highest percentage of no-shows to be on Friday — and you’d be right. Prospects are increasingly likely to leave you high and dry as the week goes on.

But don’t let this data point convince you to never again schedule an end-of-week call. The difference is pretty incremental: Monday’s no-show rate is 17.46%, while Friday’s is 18.01%.

best-day-of-week-for-sales-meetings.pngSource: Gong.io

The two days you should never have a meeting? Saturday and Sunday. The no-show rate is four times higher over the weekend.

If you want your prospects to show up, you have to pick the proper times. Take this data into account next time you suggest when to meet.

HubSpot Free Sales Training

Source: The Best Days and Times for Sales Meetings, According to New Data
blog.hubspot.com/sales

5 Highly Effective Ways to Respond to Pricing Questions

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You’re meeting with the buyer for the first time when they hit you with the dreaded price question.

There are five potential responses.

First, you could dodge the topic. Many sales training programs advise sellers to never, ever, ever give a price until value has been established. This school of thought says to ignore price questions completely until you are ready to talk about “the investment required.” And, in most sales processes, price and negotiation come at the end. But according to HubSpot Research, that’s not when buyers want to talk about price.

Second, you could give a clever response such as, “At this point, we should be able to work something out for under one million dollars,” or “Would you ask your new doctor to give you a price quote on surgery before the initial exam begins?”

Third, you could explain the delay. This seems to be the most common response. Rather than giving a price, sellers say something like, “There are many options, and I need to understand your needs before I can give you an accurate quote.”

Fourth, you could offer a range based on average deal size or high and low price points. This response is meant to help the prospect without overpricing them.

Lastly, you could simply answer the question — right away, in a straightforward, no-more-mystery way. You could give an actual price quote even though value hasn’t been established and despite the fact that the steps in your sales process haven’t been completed. This is what buyers are asking you to do.

Why You Shouldn’t Postpone the Conversation

Buyers are becoming increasingly impatient and intolerant when it comes to price deflection tactics.

We worked with Santa Clara University to conduct a Qualtrics Panel Study with 530 verified B2B buyers. These buyers rated 30 selling behaviors as “highly favorable.” The number one most important?

“The seller fully answers my questions and provides information that is relevant, timely and useful.”

Buyers do not like seller stall tactics. They want an answer — an actual dollar figure — when they ask about price.

When price questions are not immediately answered, buyers get suspicious. They assume they will (eventually) be quoted an inflated price.

This suspicion makes them guarded. The more you withhold, the more they withhold. As you proceed with your needs analysis, you won’t get all the information you need to accurately quote price. They don’t want to equip you with information you can use to inflate the price.

In addition to being counterproductive, causing mistrust, and erecting a barrier between the buyer and seller, evading the price question is inefficient.

You won’t learn if you’re dealing with a comparison shopper or a prospect who truly can’t afford your solution. Furthermore, there are multiple decision makers in most B2B purchases. If you’re talking to one person in this initial meeting, you’re barely scratching the surface of needs and values. Your preliminary assessment will, at best, enable you to give a preliminary price quote. So why not save time and provide a preliminary price quote right at the start?

How to Talk About Price the Right Way

Since most sellers delay responding to the price question, you’ll immediately differentiate yourself by giving the direct response the buyer is requesting.

It also suggests you are tuned in to the buyer’s needs and unashamed of your prices. And the law of reciprocity will kick in: Because you were forthcoming with information, the buyer will be, too. You’ll get higher-quality information faster and can use what you learn to build even more value for this buyer.

To answer the price question right away while also building value, try one of these strategic responses. Use a direct, matter-of-fact, confident tone.

  1. Price + Question: “The preliminary price is $____ and that includes ______. What criteria, other than price, will you be using to make your final decision?”
  2. Price + Benefit: “The preliminary price is $____ for the ____ option. What this means to you is that you’ll have _________. How important is this benefit to you?”
  3. Price + Personalization: “The preliminary price is $____ for our _____ package. I’m thinking this is the right package for you because you _________. Let me ask you some additional questions to confirm that I’m on the right track.”
  4. Price + Urgency: “The preliminary price is $_______ and we can honor this special offer for 48 hours. I’m mentioning this because it sounds like price is important to you. What will the impact of this cost saving opportunity be on your decision-making process?”
  5. Price + Budget Check: “The preliminary price is $_____. Tell me how this sounds in terms of your budget and the prices you’ve heard from others.”

Notice that price comes first in each of these options. The buyer asked for price, and you immediately responded with price. Then, rather than debating the price, you’ve steered the conversation back to something related to value.

Notice as well the lack of hesitation, deflection, or apologetic language. Your confidence in the way you state your prices is every bit as important as the price itself.

Finally, notice the word “preliminary.” Unless your prices are absolutely fixed, use this word to signal that there may be some movement in price. Don’t make up a number or lowball the quote. Using “preliminary” is not license to play fast and loose with the true pricing.

As you respond to the price question, keep this in mind: No one asks about price unless they are interested in purchasing. Consider price questions to be buying signals rather than potential objections. Your prospect is interested and has gotten to the stage in their own buying process where they need pricing information. Let that knowledge guide your responses and accelerate the close.

HubSpot CRM

Source: 5 Highly Effective Ways to Respond to Pricing Questions
blog.hubspot.com/sales