When I had my call center, I remember fielding a question from a member of my inside sales team after she finished a call. She said, “I just got off the phone with a guy who said he didn’t have time to talk because he was in a meeting. That just doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, why would you pick up the phone if you were in a meeting?
Now, this situation was new to her and will probably be a new situation for any freshman sales rep. But I have seen situations where managers and directors were conducting one-on-one consultations or were leading a small group meeting and they stopped what they were doing to take a phone call. Why would a decision maker stop their meeting to take a call only to tell the caller “I don’t have time to talk”?
Why Your Prospects Won’t Take Your Call
The obvious reason why your prospects won’t take your call is that they don’t want to talk to you. It’s a cover to politely hang up. As a sales rep, you have considerable control over these situations by how you set up your call prior to making it.
But what about the not-so-obvious reasons? Why would a decision maker pick up the phone when they don’t have time to talk?
Customer service managers do this all the time. Managers in post-sales support and service live in a reactive world. They expect their people to send unmanageable and irate customers their way. Or when the company’s top customer has an emergency, they need to respond in the moment and manage the situation. They need to put aside what they are currently doing to deal with the customer crisis at hand.
Then there’s the manager or supervisor who is conducting a one-on-one coaching session with a member of their team but is expecting a call from his or her spouse regarding a family emergency. They will pick up the phone for that update, regardless of what they are doing in the moment.
These are just two examples. There are many more situations where a manager will pick up the phone even if they are engaged in an important activity.
So imagine how this manager or department head feels when they are in a meeting and expecting an irate customer, or bad news on a family member in a hospital, and instead they get you, a sales rep. And the only reason for your call is to talk about your product, your service, your company, or what you want.
Sales Tip: See The World From The Prospect's Perspective
Here's a sales tip to consider when you’re making those initial calls:
If you can see the world from your prospect’s perspective, you will be in a better position to respond to their reactions when you interrupt their day.
I’ve done all types of real-time phone coaching with a variety of inside sales groups. Getting the gatekeeper to put a decision maker on the line is easy.
Listening to the decision maker chew you out for a useless interruption with no value is a lot harder. In my training sessions, on social media, and in consultations, I’ve had sales reps ask questions like, “How do I get past the gatekeeper?"
Or “How do I get the president of the company on the phone?" Instead of asking these common questions, asking the following two questions will have a bigger impact on your perspective and your call results:
Why am I calling this person?
Am I flexible enough to see the world from the prospect's perspective?
The tactics and strategies that we review in our training programs and coaching sessions are extremely effective. However, nothing can compensate for the lack of a legitimate reason for the call in the first place.
When you are calling your customers and prospects, always know why you are calling. See the world from the prospect's perspective. And if you catch them in a meeting, they probably picked up the phone expecting the worst. Apologize for the intrusion, reschedule, and leave them something to smile about before sending them back to their meeting.
Remember sales is an away game. It takes place in the mind of the prospect. Always leave your prospect or customer with something of value and you’ll be advantageously positioned for your next encounter with them.