Michael Halper is the creator of SalesScripter and author of The SMART Sales System – SELL SMARTER, NOT HARDER. There are a few different experiences that led to him creating SalesScripter and here is the story behind that written in his own words.
Discovering a Love for Sales
During my freshman year in college, I subscribed to a club that would send you music CDs every month. The club had a referral program and would give you three free CDs for every person you persuaded to join the club. Being a broke college kid who loved music, I found this opportunity really cool and ended up getting about half of the dorm that I lived in to join the club, netting me about 150 free CDs.
I found that whole experience of getting people signed up for the music club to be extremely fun. Not only did I love getting free CDs in the mail after signing someone up, but I also enjoyed the process of finding a new prospect, telling that person about the program, building interest, getting around objections, and closing the deal. This is when I started to become interested in the profession of selling.
A Passion for Training
During the last few years of college, I worked at a restaurant as a server and bartender. After working at the restaurant for about a year, I started to think about how there was not a training process for new servers. I decided to take the initiative to create a four-day training program that broke out all of the different things new servers would need to learn and do. I shared the training program with management, and they ended up implementing the program exactly as I had built it and put me in charge of training all new servers.
Taking this initiative certainly worked out well for my career at that restaurant in terms of my status, but the other benefit was that I thoroughly enjoyed working with the new servers and teaching all of the things they needed to know. It was then that I realized that I had a passion in the area of training.
Sales Systems Can Always Be Optimized
My first job out of college was working in inside sales at Compaq Computer Corporation. I was extremely lucky to get a job that allowed me to learn so much and gain such great experience. After working at Compaq for about a year, I realized that management was putting a lot of emphasis on training and compensating the department I was working in to sell more. Which is pretty standard, but the problem that I saw was that I was spending about 75 percent of my time working on customer service issues. It occurred to me that if the company wanted me to sell more and use all of the training they kept putting me through if they split my current areas of responsibility into two different jobs—one that focused on sales and another that focused on resolving customer service issues—not only would the organization sell more, it would also probably provide better customer service.
With that thought, I took a similar initiative to what I did at the restaurant and wrote up a reorganization plan outlining how and why to break the department into two different groups—sales and customer service. I sent this document to my manager, and this time I only got a nice pat on the back for sharing my ideas. Not only that, but I actually heard that management laughed about me submitting this feedback in a meeting with comments like “Who does this kid think he is?” However, about six months after I shared my feedback, the department I was working in was reorganized into two separate groups: one for sales and one for customer service. Without worrying too much about whether or not it was my feedback that led to such a big reorganization, one thing I was sure about was that the area of sales consulting and optimizing sales organizations was extremely interesting to me.
It Is All About Asking Good Questions
While I started my career selling computers, I did not truly learn about selling until I worked in the software industry and when I worked as a sales rep for BMC Software.
Software sales can be challenging because you are selling something that people can- not see and feel, and sometimes they do not even know that they need what you sell. It is all about communicating the value in terms of what the software can improve and the problems it can help to resolve.
One thing I really came to terms with when selling software was that a key to success is asking the right questions. I remember having a good call and going to share it with my manager to give him the good news and run down. In most of these de- briefings, my manager would ask me questions about the prospect that I often would not know the answer to. For example, my manager would ask if the prospect was the decision maker, or if the budget had been approved, or what was not great about the prospect’s current system. I would think to myself how those were great questions, and I wished I would have known or remembered to ask those.
After going through this a few times, I started making notes of good questions to ask and put them in a spreadsheet that evolved into a sales tool that outlined different things to ask and talk about with prospects. This spreadsheet turned out to be a very helpful sales tool that helped me to improve my sales performance and I ended up sharing it with a number of different colleagues. They loved it and would routinely come back to me asking for the latest version or if there were any updates. Now that I look back, I really enjoyed creating that sales tool and helping other salespeople to sell more. You could probably say that this spreadsheet was the very first version of the SalesScripter software application and my teammates were my first customers.
Changing the Buyer Changes the Message
As my sales career progressed, I moved on to a sales role at Kronos selling workforce management software. It was this experience that really helped me to realize that it can help to use different messages for different buyer personas.
The product I sold was fairly straightforward in that it helped businesses with timekeeping and scheduling for their employees. I sold to retail businesses, hospitals, and manufacturers. And while each customer I sold to basically used the same product when I looked at the three different types of buyers I was selling to, they each had completely different employees. Retail businesses have a lot of part-time employees; hospitals have employees with many different skills and certifications, creating very complex scheduling challenges; and manufacturers have a lot of complexity around unions and blue-collar workers. What all of that means is that while I was selling the same product to all of these different buyers, in order for me to communicate clearly and build the most interest, I needed to talk about and focus on each buyer’s unique needs and interests. It was then that I realized that when you change the buyer you are selling to, your sales pitch should also change.
Earning My Stripes
After being a salesperson for about thirteen years, I realized that I wanted to create my own sales consulting practice. But I knew that I needed to gain a little more experience before taking that step, so I took a sales role working for Ceridian and sold payroll outsourcing services. I chose this position because I knew that selling payroll outsourcing would be extremely challenging, and this would really help me to refine my skills and build on all of the things I had already learned. Ceridian also provided a rigorous thirteen-week sales training program, and I knew that the training and experience in this role would be a great bootcamp for me right before I started my consulting practice.
During my time at Ceridian, I was forced to go back to the basics and spent every day working in the trenches generating my own leads through cold calling, cold emailing, and networking. It is actually my experience selling payroll outsourcing that helped me to develop the objection handling methodology that is central to the SMART Sales System approach.
One Thing Usually Leads to Another
After leaving Ceridian, I started a sales consulting business called Launch Pad Solutions. I focused primarily on sales consulting for small businesses, and I found that most of my clients wanted help with cold calling and outbound prospecting. After about 6 months, I realized that if I had a team of cold callers, I could sell that as a service to my clients in the form of appointment setting or cold call outsourcing. With that realization, I purchased a cloud VoIP phone system, subscribed to a web-based CRM application, and hired a team of work-at-home agents to create a virtual cold call outsourcing operation. I ended up selling much more cold call outsourcing than sales consulting and that turned out to be the primary service that we provided at Launch Pad Solutions.
Developing the SMART Sales Methodology
As I hired work-at-home agents, I needed to train them on my approach to cold call- ing. As a result, I started creating recorded training modules on all of the key concepts that I wanted them to know: cold calling, cold emailing, asking questions, finding pain, building interest, dealing with objections, getting around gatekeepers, managing the sales process, closing, etc. After I created all of those training modules, I thought all of these tips would make a good sales training book, so I wrote and published The Cold Calling Equation—PROBLEM SOLVED in 2012. That book and all of those training modules were the first versions of the SMART Sales System.
Pursuing a Unique Idea
When clients hired us to do their cold calling, I had to create scripts, emails, voicemails, and objection responses for their cold callers. In order to create all of those documents, I would interview my clients to ask a series of questions. After going through that process, again and again, I had the idea that I could create a piece of software that would have all of the questions that I asked my clients and then link all of the answers to the templates of scripts and emails that I was creating for each project. If my idea would work, a salesperson or manager could answer the questions in the software, and the software would create all of his or her documents and function as a sales script-writing software application.
I did a search on the internet, and nothing like that existed, so I had it built. In January of 2013, we launched the first version of SalesScripter. While it started as a sales script builder, we have focused on continuing to develop and improve the application and have added functionality in the areas of CRM, email automation, sales training, sales recruiting, and more. Today, we have grown to have customers around the globe who are using our software to either improve their own sales efforts or to train and improve their sales team.
Focused on Making Salespeople SMARTer
We combined SalesScripter with our sales training methodology to create the SMART Sales System, and that is what we focus on today. We provide salespeople with sales training, sales consulting, sales coaching, and the SalesScripter software application, and all of these are focused on helping to make salespeople SMARTer so that they can improve their sales results, increase their income, and improve their lives.