Sales reps are still being taught old school tactics that don’t work in today’s digital business environment. In a previous post, I reviewed how the much maligned cold call has become ineffective because of the outdated practices still being used to execute them.
The same can be said for opening a sales call. If you want to to be effective when opening a sales call, you need to drop the old-school behaviors that some organizations are still teaching. Here are two examples of behaviors you need to stop right now when opening a sales call.
When Opening a Sales Call, Don’t Read Your Script
One morning recently, I received a call from someone offering a free executive report as a “reward” for subscribing to an online publication. I can appreciate what these sales reps are doing. However, if you’re targeting executives, your communication style needs to be executive-like.
I was in the middle of a task when my phone rang. Like most people in business, I didn’t want to stop what I was doing. So, I looked at my smartphone and made a decision based on the caller ID.
Usually, when the caller ID is “unknown” I do what most business people do and let the call go to voicemail. However, I was curious this time. So I answered, half expecting the call to be a marketing robocall that I could easily drop.
Instead, I got “Bobbi”. She opened her call with, "Hi my name is "Bobbi and I’m with High Tech Magazine. May I speak with Lance?"
Now, I typically answer the phone by stating my name, "Lance Tyson", and today was no different. So when somebody responds with , "Hello, Lance?" or, "Lance?" my perception is, "OK. They have poor cell phone reception" or "They are re-affirming my name because I didn’t speak plainly enough."
But when they begin with a "Hello this is Bobbi from High Tech Magazines, Inc. May I please speak with Lance?" after I just said, "Hello, Lance Tyson" it says to me that they are reading from a script.
When opening a sales call, perception is everything. If you sell over the phone, especially in a B2B environment, drop the script. Stay focused on the conversation and respond to your contact accordingly. Stay present and aware. Managers and executives have no time for sales reps who are mentally unavailable.
When Opening a Sales Call, Respect Their Schedule
After Bobbi opened her sales call with her less-than-stellar attention-getter, she proceeded to read the rest of her script. She outlined the benefits of this report and how it was going to reveal secrets about the sales industry. But, before she could send it to me, she needed to confirm some information.
Remember, I’m preoccupied with my own tasks. So, I tell her that I’m currently in the middle of a meeting.
Now, here’s a question for you readers out there: How many of you are in the middle of a couple of tasks when you get an unsolicited phone call?
As I’ve said in many of my training sessions, no one is sitting at their desk waiting for a salesperson to call them. Your prospects are always preoccupied with something at any given time.
After I tell her that I’m in a meeting, she paused, and then said, “I apologize for the interruption. I just need to verify a few pieces of information”. She did not say, “I apologize, is there a better time to talk” or “I’ll call back at a more opportune time.” She sent the unspoken message, “I’m sorry, but this is more important. So drop what you’re doing and give me your information.”
If your contact says that they don’t have time right now or they are in a meeting, don’t double-down on your request. Use the few seconds you do have with them to set up a future meeting.
Remember, perception is key. How you respond to your prospect’s statement of “I don’t have time right now” goes beyond simply getting the calls in to make a quota. It reveals to your contacts how you view them: either as a number on a spreadsheet or a valued professional.
Two Things Your Prospects are Short on - Attention and Time
Today, business people are being pulled in multiple directions. The attention span of the people you are contacting is limited, fractured, and split amongst 5 to 7 different projects. And your call is just one more item thrown into the mix, adding to their mental burden and their frustration.
Now, I realize that sales reps have more channels like LinkedIn to communicate with their prospects in addition to picking up the phone and making a call. However, if your prospect is so busy that they can’t respond at that moment, then the issue is less about the media used and more about you doing a better job of breaking their preoccupation and getting their attention.
You won’t break their preoccupation by reading a phone script. And you certainly won’t win their respect by disrespecting their time.
In review, when someone says that they don't have the time to talk at that moment, schedule time in the future with them and move on to your next prospect. But before you move on, perform a quick review of the call. Determine how you failed to break the prospect’s preoccupation and win their attention. Now, you've set yourself up for the next prospect on your list. And you have the high ground when you call your busy prospect back.
Do You Want More Powerful Ideas on Opening a Sales Call?
Because the two are so similar, many of the ideas we use when opening a sales presentation are similar to those in opening a sales call. For additional ideas on getting your audience’s attention, from a single prospect to a room full of decision makers, download our digital publication, Persuasive Sales Presentations, here.