50 Budget and Money Questions Salespeople Can Use With Any Prospect


Figuring out whether the buyer can afford your solution is nearly as important as figuring out whether they can use it. After all, need doesn’t matter without the ability or desire to buy.

But talking about money with your prospect can be tricky. Not only can these conversations feel awkward, but you may not know exactly what to say or how to say it.

That’s where this list can help. To identify whether a buyer can — and will — pay for your product, use these 50 questions.

50 Sales Questions About Budget

Questions to Ask Every Prospect

The following questions are relevant whether you’re talking to an entry-level employee doing initial research for his boss or the C-level executive signing off on the deal. Use some (like #1) to discover details of the buying process and others (like #3 and #5) to inspire urgency.

1) Has [company] bought [this exact product, a similar product] before? How was it funded? What was the approximate price?

2) Based on the info you’ve given me, this problem is costing [you, your team, your department] approximately [X amount] per [week, month, year]. How does your allocated budget compare to that amount?

3) Based on the info you’ve given me, [you, your team, your department] stands to gain approximately [X amount] per [week, month, year] by investing in this opportunity. How does your allocated budget compare to that amount?

4) How much money would it take to build this in-house?

5) How much have you already spent trying to solve this problem?

6) Our solution typically falls between [X and Y range]. If you believe [product] can help you [achieve A results, solve B problem, meet your objective by C time], would that be feasible?

7) Before you invest [significant amount] in this initiative, you can spend just [price of introductory package or product] to see if it works for you and will drive [desirable result]. Is that a number you’re comfortable with?

Questions to Use With Your Champion

Customer champions are rare. Use your ally to your advantage by asking tougher, more direct questions about cost.

1) Is the budget owner an “executive sponsor”?

2) Is the budget authority sensitive to price?

3) Are you willing to work with me to find budget for this initiative if push comes to shove?

4) We can play around with price depending on the other terms you request. Approximately how much do you think [decision maker] wants to pay?

5) Can you tell me about the other stakeholders? Who is motivated by price? Is anyone pushing for the lowest-cost solution? What motivates them and what are their objectives?

6) Does the budget authority subscribe to the “buy cheap, buy risk” philosophy?

7) What other vendors are you considering?

8) How much budget did you use last [month, quarter, year]?

9) Do you often have unused budget?

10) What happens if you don’t use your entire budget? Do those funds roll over or expire?

11) When does your current budget cycle end?

12) When does your organization typically make major purchases?

13) What is Procurement’s review process like?

14) When a product seems like a game-changer but you don’t have the available funds right away, what does your team do?

15) Would [a payment plan, lower price for a longer contract, reduced service fees, discount for a referral customer] make a difference to the [decision maker, stakeholders]?

16) Can you draw from your future budget if necessary?

17) How do you typically get approval for purchases out of your budget?

18) Would [typical results] sway [final decision maker] to invest in [product] for [X price]?

Questions to Use With a Junior Stakeholder

Lower-level employees are often asked to look into potential options before passing the final decision off to their manager or a buying committee. You want to tread carefully when you ask budget-related questions — it’s easy to sound patronizing. Once you’ve insulted them, you’ll probably lose their support.

To avoid this trap, call out their expertise or ask for their opinion.

1) Has the decision making team set aside budget for this project?

2) When you were given the responsibility of researching [vendors, solutions to X challenge], did you get a ballpark figure?

3) Whose budget is this coming out of?

4) Did you get any idea of how much [your manager, the signing authority] thought [company] should pay for this product?

5) Does this project already have approved funding, or do you need to request it?

6) What do you know about the budget for [product or service category]?

7) Can you describe the people involved in making the decision?

8) How heavily will price factor into your recommendation?

9) Does [decision maker] typically reject tools based on price?

10) Does [company] have a Procurement department? What are their financial considerations?

Questions to Use With the Budget Authority

This person has the most knowledge and influence over the purchasing decision. With these questions, you can identify potential roadblocks and move them closer to a “yes.”

1) Is price one of your main evaluation criteria?

2) Have you decided on a budget range for this purchase?

3) What’s the approximate ROI you’re hoping to get?

4) How does your department’s budget figure into the organization’s budget?

5) Are you working within a budget?

6) How much budget do you have set aside [this month, quarter, year] for [general product category]?

7) How much are you currently spending per [month, quarter, year] to address [problem, opportunity]?

8) How major a priority is [relevant business area] for your [team, department, business] this [month, quarter, year]? Does that align with your budget?

9) What is [result] worth to you?

10) [Customer stakeholder] said you were working within a budget of [$X and $Y] — is that correct?

11) Would this be easier for you to push through if we [unbundled the package, billed you separately for X and Y, started on a lower rate]?

12) Is price the only thing stopping you from moving forward?

13) How much would you be willing to pay for [X component of product] by itself?

14) If we removed [X feature or add-on], the price would go down by approximately [Y percent]. Is that an option you’re interested in?

15) Would you be interested in hearing some of the creative ways my customers have found the budget for this purchase?

Once you’ve qualified your prospect for budget, identified any major roadblocks, and delved into their top priorities, you’ll be well on your way to making the sale. Get ready to spend that commission.

HubSpot CRM

Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

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


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. 

HubSpot CRM

Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

The 3 Most Common Closing Curveballs (& How Sales Reps Can Avoid Them)


In sales, the occasional closing curveball is inevitable. But if you’re consistently encountering unwelcome surprises in the later stages of your sales process, the problem doesn’t lie with your prospects: It lies with you. Asking the right questions along the way will help you identify potential obstacles while there’s still time to deal with them — and meet your quota.

For more advice on closing, check out The GSD Show — tips for salespeople, by salespeople.

Here are the three most common types of curveballs reps face, as well as the questions that will proactively surface them.

1) Timing Curveballs

I can’t tell you how frequently my reps run into misunderstandings around the timing of their prospects’ purchasing decisions.

HubSpot international sales and strategy manager Paul Rios and I discussed deal stages during our recent GSD Sales Show episode, The Modern Close.

We agreed reps often run into huge roadblocks because they don’t understand the stages their buyer must go through to buy a product or service. Your prospect might be completely on board, but the purchasing order takes four days to process, or Legal needs a week to review and approve the contract. These delays inevitably mess with your sales forecast and may even cause you to miss quota.

The solution is simple: Ask the buyer about their process. You can’t directly influence how quickly their company moves, but you can prepare a winning strategy and create authentic urgency once you know what needs to happen.

Ask questions like:

  • “What needs to happen from here?
  • “Who am I going to need to run this by?”
  • “How long does this process usually take?”

Pose these questions at every stage so you’re never caught off-guard. The best salespeople can articulate the exact steps a prospective purchase will necessitate, starting with the day the contract closes and working backwards. 

2) Competition Curveballs

Another common problem my reps run into is that they’re dealing with a prospect who is engaging simply to compare prices or get a quote they can leverage with their current vendor.

When you try to move a deal forward and a prospect says, “We’re just waiting for final numbers from my current vendor,” nine times out of 10 you’ve already lost. That response means you’re down to haggling price — and the cost of switching almost always outweighs the cost of staying.

You’ve also missed the window to compare feature sets, leverage customer case studies, or explore the buyer’s pain points with their current vendor.

To avoid this curveball, don’t be afraid to ask about the competition right from the start. Reps are sometimes afraid to bring up competitors out of the mistaken belief they’ll give their prospect ideas. But think about your own large purchases over the years: Car, cable provider, home, cell phone, and so on. When have you ever bought an item without comparing it to at least one competitive product?

Bringing up the competition won’t put any ideas in your prospect’s mind. They’re almost certainly looking at your competitors, including the incumbent, so surface this information at the beginning.

Ask where they are with their current supplier and understand which other companies are in the running.

These questions will be useful:

  • “What other tools have you considered?”
  • “Is there a chance you stay with your current vendor?”
  • “Which vendors are you going to seriously evaluate?”

Knowing the entire situation helps you better manage the deal — and could even provide an opportunity to lock out the competition with your product’s key differentiators. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

3) Authority Curveballs

I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding exactly whom you’re talking to and why you’re talking to them. Every company has a different approval and purchasing process, and you must understand “who’s who” in your demos or meetings.

Reps often discover late in the sales conversation that their main contact is an internal champion masquerading as a decision maker. Just because your point of contact likes the product doesn’t mean they can independently make the decision to purchase.

Politely ask questions like:

  • “How did this [project, process, initiative] begin?”
  • “How did you get involved and what is your role in the process?”

When meeting new people, don’t be afraid to ask them the same questions. In addition, always request their job titles and contact information. My favorite qualifying question is, “Can you tell me about the last time you made a purchase like this in the past?” The answer will tell you all you need to know about whom you are really dealing with.

If they’ve acted as a budget or signing authority in the past, follow up with detailed questions about timelines, obstacles, dependencies, and so on.

The sooner you know exactly which stakeholders will be involved in the purchase, the sooner you can provide them with the information they need to move forward. I encourage my reps to tailor the content of each of their online demos to appeal to the individuals in the room — and to do so, you need a good understanding of who is in the room.

With these questions in your arsenal, you can learn key details from your prospect before it’s too late. Stop being thrown by curveballs — start anticipating (and more importantly, avoiding) them.

Try join.me for simple, instant online demos. 

The GSD Show

Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

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

Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

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

Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

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

Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

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

Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

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

Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales