When I was 20 years old, I spent my summers between engineering school semesters selling door to door. I was the number one door to door salesperson for the largest direct sales company in Canada and it was there where I was mentored and learned how to get ice cold prospects to happily open their wallets for me after only knowing me for five minutes.
In a few months, I was able to pay off my entire tuition bill ($50,000), go on vacation and buy a brand new BMW to help attract the chicks 🙂
I was formally trained in Engineering Physics so over the years, I transitioned into a more technical space – building and selling software. The closing techniques from door to door worked like gangbusters when applied to an industry like SaaS and allowed me to sell millions of dollars worth of software quickly and predictably. I spent the last better part of the decade selling hard and building profitable inside sales teams. So what can inside sales do for your business?
You can use inside sales to sell higher ticket items. You can increase your lead conversion rate. You can increase your sales volume and you can scale your business quickly if you know what you are doing (just hire more reps!).
Not to mention, if you are just starting out, getting on the phone with someone to learn about their problems and pain points is extremely important to the customer development process. You need real feedback from real customers to properly build your solution and inside sales gives you that feedback loop.
Historically, the average cost of an inside sales rep has been cheaper than an outside rep, but still… getting inside sales going can still be pricy.
Just looking at a common job board, you can see that the average inside sales rep salary is $47,938.
It gets tough to make your inside sales team profitable if your salaries are high and your ramp time is long – especially if you are just starting out. An in-depth study from the Bridge Group published a study that measured ramp time and average experience level,
“The average experience level when hiring [inside sales reps] was 2.6 years”. “Average ramp time jumped sharply from 4.2 months (2010) to 5.3 months (2015).”
So if this is the status quo, how can we explain how certain companies seem to blow up over night using inside sales?
What is the difference between these ultra-successful sales organizations and the rest of them?
Why do some sales orgs grow exponentially and why do some just fizzle out?
Recently I took a fin-tech software company (AdvisorStream.com) from $0-$1mm ARR in a few months using inside sales. Our sales rep ramp time to full quota was only 1-2 weeks. The product was relatively complex and the decision makers were highly educated financial advisors.
“One of our top reps was only 18 years old when we hired him and he was one of our top performers. We used the script Nick built to ramp our reps to quota and closing over 30% within a few weeks. We paid our reps less than the industry average and they were still performing. This was one of the major reasons why we were able to grow so quickly. ” – Kevin Mulhern, CEO of AdvisorStream
So how did we turn an 18 year kid into a lethal selling machine? How did we ramp so fast? How was the demo close rate over 30%?
The secret was in the sales training and sales script.
With a good script, anyone who can read, can sell.
Think McDonalds… McDonalds uses scripts and processes to turn pimply teenagers into managers who run multimillion dollar per year stores with only a few months of training.
A great script is worth millions. It can save you from hiring overqualified, expensive reps and save you months of ramping time. It will also make you profitable extremely quickly.
When do scripts work?
The answer is always. It’s always better to be prepared than to not be prepared. If a rep tells you they don’t need a script, they are wrong. A script frees up thinking power so the rep can focus on the delivery of the pitch. The best reps will always have their script handy even if they know it inside and out and have been saying it for years.
The script also regulates closing rates. With a script, a rep can come in hungover or distressed about a personal problem and still close deals. Without a script, a distressed rep would be a complete write off for the day/week. You don’t want to take those chances when you are shelling out big bucks on salaries.
So, how do you write a lethal sales script for your product?
I put together a template for you to follow. This is the template I use when writing my own scripts for growth companies. This template is battle tested. It has sold millions of dollars worth of products and has turned many young kids into lethal selling machines able to buy brand new BMWs, pay off student debts, buy $1,000 tee shirts, and go on week long Vegas benders (I’m not saying that’s what your reps will do, but funny things tend to happen when you give a kid a few thousand in commission for a day’s work).
Here is the template:
I’ll illustrate this entire process with a simple example involving a bratty kid, his mom and some ice cream.
Kid enters kitchen
Kid – “Mom, do we have any ice cream in the house?” – qualification
Mom – “Yes, but you have to wait until after dinner.”
Kid – “I’m really hungry and ice cream would be a perfect snack to tide me over until dinner” – Transition and excitement
Mom – “I’m sure it would be, son, but you know the rules.”
Kid – “Mom, if I get ice cream, I’ll have energy for doing my homework.” – Features/benefits
Kid – “You are the one who’s always telling me to do more homework. I want to do it, but I just need some food to focus” – trapping
Kid – “I’ll tell you what. How about I just have a little ice cream and I’ll do 1 hour of solid homework” – Offer 1
Mom “Sorry, son. I’m not budging” – First “No”
Kid – “Mom, how about I do 2 hours of homework and I help you clean up after dinner” – Loop 1
Mom – “That’s tempting, but no” – No #2
Kid – “Mom, how about I do 2 hours of homework, help you clean up and I’ll even clean my room after dinner.” – Loop 2
Mom – “Wow, really tempting, but I promised your father I wouldn’t give you any ice cream”
Kid – “Mom, please. I’ll do anything. I need this. Please have some compassion. You won’t regret it. I’ll do 2 hours of homework, clean up, and clean my room. It will mean so much to me. Please!” – Loop 3 – Get emotional
Mom – “Ahhh okay, fine!” – Closed
Kids are pros at selling for some reason. Notice that the sales didn’t really start until after the first “no”. This is standard. If you can apply the same concept above to your sales process, you will be able to close like a champ.
Let’s go through the sales training process.
Most people think building rapport is simply finding common ground and making small talk. This is not true. Real rapport comes from status and authority – meaning the prospect really thinks they should be talking to you because you are an expert. If you can establish authority within the first 30 seconds of your call, your close rate will increase. People don’t want to do business with losers. They want to do business with winners. You need to quickly convey to the prospect that you and your team are winners.
Here’s an example:
“Hey [name], thanks for joining me today. Can you hear me okay? Great. This demo is mostly about you, but before we jump into it, I’ll quickly say that I’ve been helping people like you for 5 years now and I know the ins and out around [whatever problem you are solving], so if you have any questions, just interrupt me and I’ll answer them. Sound good?”
In one paragraph, you communicated that your time is valuable, you are an expert and you are leading the interaction. Can an 18 year old kid do this? Yes…(just leave out the 5 years part).
Once you have authority you need to move right into qualification.
Qualification has two purposes:
Without first gathering information, you will be pitching in the dark. You want to be pitching qualified prospects. You can define a qualified prospect by checking these three things off:
The way you gather this information is with highly targeted questions. You want to start out with easy-to-answer questions and transition into harder questions where they reveal more sensitive information.
Here is an example of a question flow:
“So why did you join me today, what piqued your interest?” – Easy to answer
“How are you currently [doing whatever job your solution does]? How is it going?” – Easy to answer and identifies problem
“What does success look like in this area for you?” – Future pacing and emotionally engaging
“If we could help you [change key metric by x%], can you afford to pay [price]?” – Determining if they have any money/priming them to be sold/not getting stuck in the friend zone 🙂
“If we determine a fit, are you able to pull the trigger or do we have to get others to sign off on new solutions? If not, who else needs to be involved?” – Determining decision maker. Be direct and respectful. This will save you a ton of time.
Once you get the information you need and your prospect is engaged, you need to transition to pitching.
Here’s what a transition looks like:
“Okay, great. Based on what you told me, what we do here seems like a fit. Let me show you how it works.”
Once you transition you need to go through your solution by speaking in terms of benefits and results. People don’t care how you solve their problem, they just want to know that you can solve it. You use features/benefits/results/proof to demonstrate that you can solve their problem and articulate how their life will be different after they use your solution.
You can use this matrix:
|Feature||Benefits (Enthusiastic Tone)||Results “What this means for you is that you will…” (Certainty Tone)||Proof (Certainty Tone)||Visual|
|Custom Reports||Use this feature to completely automate your reporting||Increase engagement and client retention||The average user increases retention by 30%||Show screenshot|
You want to quickly touch on the features, but you really want to drive home the benefits, results and proof. This is what moves people to action.
Just list out all of your features and write benefits and results in the matrix. Here are some questions to ask when working on this matrix:
All you need to do is give this matrix to your 18 year old sales rep and they are off to the races!
Once you explain what your product actually is and how it helps them, you can move on to the next step – called trapping.
In this step, you are basically letting the prospect convince themselves that your solution is the right fit for them. It’s much more powerful to have them tell you that there is a fit than it is for you to tell them. Here is an example of trapping:
“So, [name], you tell me. How do you see yourself using this tool? What specific feature would you find most helpful?”
If they can answer you and tell you that your solution will solve their problem, you can move on to the next step – offer 1. If they are still not sold and they can’t admit to you that they need what you have, you need to go back to the previous step.
Most reps mess this up…They try giving offers before they know the prospect wants the solution. I never even think about giving a price or an offer before I know the prospect is a good fit…My reps and my time are too valuable.
Once you know they want it, you can transition into Offer 1.
The prospect will usually say something like “Well, how much does this thing cost?”.
If you qualified and trapped properly and the prospect just asked that question, you should close the sale 95% of the time! Now you have to practice the art of not messing it up.
Here’s what you need to include in offer 1:
Here is an example:
|Compare solution to expensive alternative||“Okay, great. Well if you were to do this yourself, you will be spending up to $3,000/month.”|
|Offer price||“We only charge [price].”|
|Tell them what they get||“You get: Unlimited support, full access to the tool, etc…”|
|Remove the risk||“If for some reason you are not getting results with this, simply email us and we will give you a full refund.”|
|Inject scarcity||“This offer won’t be available for very long, we are upping our price to [new price] in 30 days.”|
|Closing line||“What do you say, do you want to give it a shot?”|
Yes, you are expecting a “no” here. Think about it. The prospect just met you 30 minutes ago and you are asking for their hard-earned money… Of course they are going to say “no” (actually about 10% of people say “yes”). They don’t really know you or trust you.
So what do you do?
You have to overcome objections and reposition. Just like the little bratty kid.
As you are going through your offers (1-3), the prospect will have questions or objections. All objections, questions and answers need to be written out by either the head of sales or the CEO. Your reps shouldn’t have to think for themselves – they should just be reading. Get together as a group and list the common questions and objections. Once they are listed, you need to write rebuttals.
Here is the rebuttal formula:
You can use this template:
|Objections and questions||Rebuttals|
|[insert common questions]||[insert answers]|
The prospect should start feeling some pressure to buy now.
You are starting to get emotional. They might still say, “well, I need to think about it”.
Let’s get into offer 2:
|Deflection||“Not a problem. Let me ask you a question, do you like the idea? Does the idea make sense to you?”|
|Reposition||“Great. Well you just told me this is a great fit for you and you have the ability to try things out. You also told me that you can afford to pay for it if we could deliver.”|
|Offer 2||“Here’s what I can do for you. We will give you everything for that price and we include a [special bonus].”|
|Closing line 2||“You still get the period to try it out. If for any reason you are not getting results, just email us and we will refund you. What do you say, is that fair?”|
Notice you deflect the objection – Don’t validate it. Reposition and attack from another angle, give more value then ask for the sale again.
After you loop through another objection, give a 3rd offer:
|Deflection||“Not a problem. I can appreciate that.”|
|Reposition||“Well, [name], I know this will work for you. I just want a chance to prove it to you. I understand what you are trying to do, and believe me, I’m the guy to help you do it.”|
|Offer 3||“Here’s what I can offer you. Instead of paying [original price], I’ll discount it by 10% and we will still offer you the [bonus] and guarantee.”|
|Closing line 3||“Just give me one shot to prove this to you. What do you say, [name]. Is this fair?”|
At this point, the prospect should close…If you want to achieve lethal status, keep repositioning until they do close..
|Deflection||“[Name], I hear what you are saying.|
|Reposition||“[Name], I just told you I get what you are trying to do and I can see where you can go with this. Just let me help you for God’s Sake!”|
|Offer 4||“Here’s what I can offer you. Instead of paying [original price], I’ll still discount it by 10% and we will still offer you the [bonus] and guarantee. In addition I’ll give you [bonus 2].”|
|Closing Line 4||“Please, [name]. Just give me a shot to show you what we can do. You won’t regret it. What do you say? Can we work together or not?”|
Here’s an example of offer 5. It is at this point where the best sales reps separate from the mediocre ones. The best sales reps know how to get emotional and are not afraid to take risks.
|Deflection||“[Name], stop right now.”|
|Reposition||“This isn’t my first time at bat. Listen, if my stuff didn’t work, I’d be out of a job and this business wouldn’t have survived for the past 7 years.. If my stuff didn’t work and I couldn’t help people, my kids wouldn’t be attending (whatever school) and my wife would be off with some other guy right now. But guess what, [name]… She’s not out with some other guy right now. She’s waiting for me at home right now…. Why? Because this stuff works, [name] and when I help people, they get results.”|
|Offer 5||“[Name], I don’t want to waste any more time here. Let’s make a deal. Instead of paying [original price], I’ll discount it by 15% and we will still offer you the [bonus] and guarantee. In addition, I’m going to give you [bonus 2].”|
|Closing Line 5||“Now [Name], not only am I the best qualified to solve this for you, I’m giving you a deal and there is no risk to starting. You tell me [Name], is this fair or what?”|
After going through a close like this, the prospect will either buy from you or hang up on you. But the truth is, the people that hang up on you won’t close anyway. They are the ones you will be chasing for 6 months to close a tiny deal. Real decision makers appreciate a rep who is willing to work for their commission. Real decision makers appreciate good offers and a little fun in the buying process. If you can actually deliver on your promises, the customers who are hardest to close, will be your biggest advocates and bring you the most referrals.
Once you get your prospect to say “Yes”, you just need to collect the credit card or get the contract signed. Just relax and get through that process as quickly as you can!
If you follow this sales training, you can turn any 18 year old kid into a lethal selling machine, capable of selling complex products to educated buyers.
Action Steps: Use this workbook to write your own lethal sales script.