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a-different-fish

Pain Leads To No Gain In Prospecting!0

A few weeks ago, I posted a piece titled “No Pain – No Game?”, playing off the old weight exercise motto. In case you didn’t bother rushing to read the piece, it suggests that if you can only sell to buyers who have a self-declared pain or need, you will be in trouble, as 70% of the market, the Status Quo, is immune to the pain argument.

But there is a further reason why reliance on pain for sales success could in fact be painful (in the form of missing quota, not making enough commission to buy your girlfriend or kids the winter solstice gift they really want).

Many successful business people, especially small business owners and entrepreneurs have a different outlook than the average sales person or corporate employee. Because they are not cocooned in the comfort of corporate safety, with a few given responsibilities. They know it will not be easy, it will not be 9 to 5, it will not be a straight line to success, they don’t get a weekly paycheck or a Friday Beer Lunch while they are “waiting to make things work”, like many sales people who fail to deliver quota. They know to succeed they will need to face some challenges and adversities. They are the business living version of “No Pain – No Gain”.

a-different-fishSuccessful business people are more stoked by the possibilities long term success brings to let a few temporary, often expected setbacks occur. They have heard all the negatives, potential risks, financial ruins, and still decided to push ahead, commit money, time resources, and sweat to realizing their dream and vision. They have planned for roadblocks and detours, you pointing them out is just boring to them. Unless, you can show them how you will help them realize their vision for their business, for them as individuals, you will be chewed up and spit out, all in a very social way. Given their drive, do you really think a little pain is going to stop them? Or do you think they want someone who can help them work past the pain. The business athlete knows how to work through pain to get the results the average person does not. Even senior people within corporate settings have demonstrated characteristics that have allowed them to distinguish themselves from the also-rans.

The people heading up organizations, entrepreneurs and serial small business owners are not your usual breed, they have different filters, they work hard play hard, win hard, they’re not in business to socialize, they do that after they achieve their objectives. So, if you fail to take that difference into account, and fail to adjust for that, because you have been selling to middle management or users, and that will not work when you are dealing with someone who not only has the vision, but more importantly the balls to act, and do things that most others clearly have difficulty doing or lack the will and/or knowhow to do. The pain and headwind that may scare some, is an expectation for many of your buyers, focusing on pain, rather than objectives, and how you specifically can help them achieve them, will lead to more pain for you than these buyers are willing to deal with, because they know what is beyond that, and that’s what they want to talk about.

Serial entrepreneurs are serial sales winners, and winners know that there is an element of fact to “No Pain No Gain”, a smart seller focuses on the gain, not the pain. Click To Tweet

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pipeline-insurance

Pipeline Insurance2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Insurance is one of those things that everyone has but nobody really wants. In some ways, we feel that we are throwing money away, until that rainy day or unforeseen event arrives, and we are all too happy to have the insurance. As much as we hate the experience, we do it because we know that it’s the best way to ensure that we don’t have a sever disruption, financial or other, that will negatively impact our lives.

Rich people are always over insured, the rest of us have to be more selective, what do we need to ensure, and can we afford to leave “exposed”, risking come what may. When times get tough, cash-flow is squeezed, most people pull back on discretionary spending, then less discretionary spending. This includes things we consider “good to have”, but when the immediate expense is greater than the perceived risk, or having to go without, we cut back on those things. When you’re feeling good in your 40’s, but tight for cash, you may feel you have to make choices; you’ll likely forgo disability coverage in favour of car insurance, as you need to drive to work daily. As cash becomes tighter, you make more choices, not always in line with your long-term goals, but just enough to get you through the here and now.

It is a lot like prospecting, we all hate to do it, especially the traditional type, where we have to engage with prospects who are not lined up at our door, or downloading the latest ditties of wisdom your content teams pinches out. But oh we like prospect when we have them, there is nothing like a full pipeline brimming with opportunities. Assuming they are all real opportunities, some will close, some won’t, but one way or the other they all have to be replaced; and replaced by a multiple of your close ratio. Simply, if your conversion rate of opportunities that go into your pipeline is 4:1, every time you close one client, you will need to replace it with four prospects. The condition is that they have to be real, a lot of sales people keep opportunities in their pipeline even when the chance of the closing are low and declining, because the illusion of opportunities allows them to make choices, similar to insurance choices above. In this case, it is forging prospecting in a regular and disciplined way.

But as you work your magic, and close the deals in your pipeline, which I know takes time and effort, giving you plenty of reason to make choices about how you use your time. The consequences of not prospecting are off in the future, if you have a 3 month cycle, and you have “a lot” of opportunities, you’ll tell yourself that you can afford not to prospect. “Look at all the money in the pipeline, I need to focus on that, I can prospect next week, or when I close all this.” But by the time you do close them, it will be too late to replenish without a gap in income.

Time to get insurance to avoid this void, in the case of your pipeline, the best insurance you can get, is prospecting!

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very boring phone call

Or – You’re Just A Boring Prospector0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 
I get to listen to a lot of phone calls made by a whole lot of B2B sales people. Some are selling bleeding edge services to prospects with bleeding edge expectations, others are selling traditional products that are as exciting as watching paint dry, or listening to call recordings. There are always things we can change and improve from a skill and techniques standpoint, in fact, I consider a week less productive from a sales development success perspective when I have not learned some new thing to improve my prospecting.

But the one thing no one can teach you is a zest for what you are doing. A zeal for success, not just your own, but that of your prospect. Add to that all the silly and self-limiting things sales people do on the phone that throttle their message, especially when they want to come across cute, overly courteous (to the point where it extinguishes any chance you had to begin with), non-threatening, and all the self-imposed barriers to prospecting and sales success. But it is I the zest and zeal that are lacking in most calls, and the result is nothing short of boring. The main reason clients hang up is they don’t want to hit their head on the desk as they fall asleep listening to the drivel on the other end of the line.

Emotions are contagious, our state, our intent, our feelings are all contagious, and are all in play when making a prospecting call, much more so than in other forms of prospecting. Which why when done well, telephone prospecting is still the most effective means of engaging with a prospect other than a direct introduction. The ones who tell you telephone prospecting is not effective (for them), are the ones who can’t do it. The ones whose emotions and mixed bag of feelings, and by extension everything they are projecting on the phone cause them to fail, and draw the second most obvious conclusion, “hey this is not working for me”. The most obvious one being, they don’t know what they are doing and stinging out the house.

It’s not all bad or sad, there are things you can fix, practice and change. You can think about leading with some solid and relevant outcomes for prospects based on past experience. You can teach sales people to focus on clients’ objectives, not features, and what our company does. It does not take much to help sellers to understand that it is all about the end, not the means, which erroneously most sales people lead with on the phone.

The one thing that sellers have to change on their own is to stop sound boring (in fact stop being boring). All the steps many take to make themselves more appealing, less threatening, plainly said, more beige, just makes them boring as, well you know what. You have to pity the poor bastard who answers the phone, only to be greeted by series of inconsequential words that sound the same as the last 5,000 or so call, I mean is there a faster cure to insomnia and no-sale?

So next time, ask yourself and be honest, is it the telephone that does not work for prospecting, or are you just boring on the phone? Click To Tweet

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script

Scripting Prospecting Success0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There are a lot of things sellers say in the course of telephone prospecting. But given the nature of the call, the reality that we need to get to engagement from an interruption in a relatively short time, it is important to think about what you’re going to say and why. One way is to actually use a script, yes, script, maybe it would help if we called it a plan you can follow to ensure success in an endeavourer, in this case engaging with a potential prospect. One reason to have a script is to ensure that What you say in the call is always tied to a Why, a Why for the prospect, and from the prospect’s perspective, not yours.

scriptI know many don’t like scripts, they see them as old school and limiting, when in fact the opposite is true. They not only help you stay up to date, and when you are good, forward looking (sounding), but done right and used right they expand the possibilities rather than limit them. A well developed script is a template, it ensures that your message is delivered in the way you planned and want to deliver it. Those who want to succeed at prospecting without a plan, (a script) remind me very of actors without a script. Now some actors may do improv very well, some will in fact go and practice improv to sharpen certain skills, but for the money, the best actors use scripts. Name your last Oscar winner that went at the part without a script; yet to the audience, they nailed the role. Well if you want to nail a call, you need a script.

Much like in the movies, you don’t see the script, you just see the results. Unlike the movies, where actors rehearse their parts, make changes based on how it went. They work with the screen writer to adjust it so it works in the context of the scene. I don’t see many sales people rehearse, and even less do it out loud; or work with their colleagues, be they from product development, marketing or elsewhere in the process. Nor do I see them going back and listening to the recordings so they can see what works for the audience (read prospect), and what is turning the audience off.

Much like many plays or movies get dated fast, so do calling scripts. You need to continuously update them based on who you are calling, what their objectives may be, or in different economic conditions, and at times even based on location and local slang. You need to prepare different iterations based on the changing facts on the ground. When I say prepare, I mean just that. Sit down and write out your scripts, each version, each change. It has been show that we retain more when we write it down.

Once you have written it, let it sit overnight, think of it as the prospecting version of marinating. Then go back to it, and if you like, you need to do two more things. First, read it again, (out loud), and then see how you can make it more conversational, not read, like the telemarketers you hate. Use a friend to tell you if it sounds like you, or a telemarketer, keep rehearsing till it’s you. Second, and more important, once you are happy with it, and have it down, put it away when you are on the phone. If you have practiced/rehearsed, then you don’t need it out, you’ll turn to it and read it on the first bump, instant death. You may stumble, but that’s human, and they like it when you are scripted and human, not so much when you are winning it, and sound desperate.

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Handsome businessman opening gift box over gray background

Prospects Object Less To What They Want0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In the past I, have highlighted how many sellers are limiting if not sabotaging their opportunities while telephone prospecting. The main reason for that is that they are approaching things from a deficit, they are casting a small and porous net, one that only captures a small set of buyers, those with a defined need. This would work great if a large segment of the market had needs they were willing to act on, but the reality is that most potential prospects do not. And that is where a lot of sellers get confused, and struggle to effectively connect with those potential prospects who don’t have or recognise a need.

When it comes to prospecting, especially phone prospecting, looking for need will kill your success. Many who do have the need are looking to get past it and are looking for someone with a vision beyond. While those without a recognized need, will just object to the call, leave those looking for need or selling solutions rejected and dejected. The vicious circle of events that gives cold calling a bad name.

But what would happen if you cold called and led with outcomes built around the prospect’s wants rather than needs?

So, if you’re going to be interrupted, what would you be more receptive to:

  1. Hearing about how this unknown entity can satisfy a need you do not have or recognize?
  2. Or how they may help you get to somewhere you want to get to?

For most (honest) people it is the latter. Yet most sales people, encouraged by their managers and a hoard of pundits, default to the former. Yet it is this same group of sellers and pundits who will tell you that cold calling doesn’t work, just witness the rejection level.

Rejection in prospecting is a result of two factors. One you can’t do much about, and that is the fact that you are interrupting an already busy day, and they want to eliminate the interruption and get back to work. Second, the interruption is all about a need they do not have or recognize. Often they don’t recognize it because it is all about needs described in marketing speak by a nervous fast talking squeaky voice.

Interrupting is not as bad as some would tell you, the same people who go on about interrupting with a call, embrace the concept of “disruption” just to be cool. Let’s call a spade a spade and get past that excuse for not properly prospecting. So now we are down to message.

Speak to something they want to do, and all of a sudden this interruption can be seen as insight. It demonstrates an understanding of where the prospect is, and where they want to go, and what they want at the end of that journey. Speak to their wants, they may still may not like the fact that they were interrupted, but the message around wants and impacts, is a bit compelling. Handle the objections head on with how you have helped others like them achieve their wants, and the objection is like an invitation for more details, possibilities, and engagement.

How do you know what their wants are, what they want to achieve, the impacts they seek? Just look at your past pipeline opportunities. Not just the wins, but the losses and those that are stuck in the limbo of no decision. All this is in your CRM, assuming you are using it the way it should be used. Forget ABM, focus on the individual and what they want, they will not object to any of that.

Believe me, you need to change your prospecting approach if you want to succeed in selling to the whole market.

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Portrait angry young woman screaming on mobile phone

Phone Prospecting – Cool and Not Cool3

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

People talk about prospecting as though it is open to interpretation, it should not be.  Prospecting is the act of engaging with someone with the purpose of initiating a sales cycle.  It is not about trying to sell, qualify, or any of the things that will never happen if you do not engage.  There is a singular purpose to prospecting, that is to engage.

It is not about striking a relationship that you hope will lead to something, that’s called dating; anyway, who says they can’t buy from you before you form a real relationship; who says there needs to be a whole lotta clicking, liking, and retweeting before you can engage?  The only ones who say things like that are people who do not prospect.  People who confuse prospecting with a social encounter, those who still believe the world will beat a path to their door if they built a better ____________ (insert product).

This post is more for those who have to prospect beyond the known, with people they have never met, not connected with on LinkedIn, or any previous contact.  Connecting and engaging with these prospects is a different effort and experience, and calls for some more effort than clicking around, steps like cold calling.

 

This requires a different approach with a different mindset and outlook.   I was describing one of these actions to rep recently, and he said “that’s not cool”.  You know what’s really not cool, is not having enough opportunities in your pipeline and not knowing what to do about it.  So here some cool and not so cool things when it comes to successful prospecting.

Cool: Leaving a voice mail.  Not only is it cool cause people call back, and you don’t get calluses on fingers dialing them over and over again, but even when they don’t call back it is a touch point, and you’re going to need 8 to 12 touch points before a potential prospect will respond.   You can get some insights about how I get 40 – 50 percent of messages I leave, returned within 72 or so hours, by click here.

Not cool: Wasting valuable time at the top of a prospecting call with your title, region, and other useless info that either puts the prospect to sleep or causes them to hang up.  Tell them what’s in it for them, not about you.  Worse and funnier, is when I call a number and the outbound voice mail message is:

“Hi you’ve reach Alfred Newman, regional mid-west sales manager, with ACME Corp, a Fortune 500 company.”  (Sometimes they even add their company’s tag line).  WHO CARES!  Sure, Mom and your significant other, but no one else.

Instead of boring them to tears with that drivel, why not leave the toll free number for your support team, the people they probably want to talk to anyway.

Not cool: One outbound voice mail crime, when I call someone on Friday October 7, and their message says “Hi, this Emma, I am currently out of the office on vacation returning on Monday June 27.”  What’s a prospect going to think when they return your message and it is October?

Cool: Leading the call with outcomes you have delivered against objectives similar to theirs, so they know what’s in it for them, rather than knowing your title (or corporate rank).

Not Cool:  When a prospect says they are not interested, asking “What are you not interested in?”  When a prospect says they are all set, responding “Well maybe I can send you some information so you know about us in case something comes up”.  I can’t believe people get paid to say that, I think they are paid to move past that and get the appointment.

Cool:  Calling everyone who is part of the decision, one after the other, and bringing them together rather than one by one.  Not only does that take more time and work, but will force you to cover the same ground over and over, whereas, if you reached out and got everyone involved at the same time, you can create the opposite effect.

Not Cool:  Asking “Can I speak to the person in charge of…”  Nothing says it’s time to put on a rain coat because we are about to experience some spray and pray.

Cool: Focusing on objectives not pain.  They all have objectives, very few will admit to pain, whether it is there or not.

Certainly not an exhaustive list, just things I experienced this week.  So these were some the things I observed, tell us what you think is cool or uncool in prospecting, drop your thoughts in the comment box below.

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Senior businessman being shocked after receiving bad news on cell phone, sitting at office desk behind alarm clock showing five minutes to twelve.

Stop Sabotaging Your Prospecting0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

We have all heard the expression that people make decisions based on emotion, then spend time rationalizing the decision. This interplay between our primal instinct and our later developed intellect, impacts sales success in other key ways. Our beliefs on a primal level have greater influence than we often realize, and despite our intellect and education, our beliefs will either limit us, or empower us beyond what many give them credit for.

Take telephone prospecting, yes cold calling, certainly a real and often emotional thing for all involved.  There are as many opinions out there about cold calling as there are minutes in a day.  Yet whether it works, or not, has less to do with technique and the times we live in.  It instead comes down to your beliefs and the actions those beliefs lead to, or more typically, actions they prevent.  And just like actions having consequences, in sales, especially lack of action, has greater consequences.

This leads to the question of which beliefs are interfering with your sales success, and can be recalibrated to change your beliefs, thoughts and actions.

One of my core beliefs, supported by real world experience, and empirical data, is that my customers benefit in very specific ways when they follow my programs.  They regularly achieve objectives they set out to accomplish, and realize direct impact on their business.  I am conduit to best practices, and as a result, can help prospects even before they commit to my programs.  This allows me to pick up the phone, and call someone I have not met, but have the confidence that I can help.

Now if you don’t have that core belief, the belief that you can help your clients, you are going to have difficulty prospecting, which equals difficulty selling.  Even though I am a professional interrupter, realizing that I am disrupting the prospects day, I both know and believe that the ultimate positive impact I will have on their sales team, will greatly outweigh the interruption.

What’s interesting is why people lack the belief that they can help their prospects.  Some tell me they sell a commodity, and as a result it is all down to price.  I get it, it is not easy, but you and I both know that there are people out there prospecting in your hen house and winning the business without dropping their price or pants.   What they have going for them is their focus on the outcomes they deliver, not how they deliver them.  This allows you to concentrate the message, avoid talking about yourself, and quickly have the prospect focus on the issue not the product.  The prospectors we turn out never talk about products, who their company is, or any of that intellectually rooted messaging, it is all about outcomes.

Start by going back and having straight conversations with your clients, ask them why they continue to deal with you, and then listen, and not selectively.  What you’ll find is that even if it is a commodity, door nails, is that price is not in the top three reasons, usually not in the top five.  Seems to me, those three things that keep them with you, but are not price, should be the things you lead a cold call with, even before talking about your company.  Frankly dear, no one cares that you are the Mid-West account rep for a Fortune 500 company, well maybe your mother, but no prospect, go to the outcomes.

It will take a few interviews with clients, and with people where you lost, or they did not take a decision.  But over time you will not only understand what you should focus on in prospecting calls, but as you get traction, you will confirm your ability to help people and change your beliefs to a healthier and more rewarding set of beliefs.

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surfing

Riding The Prospecting Wave0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There are many things that influence a sales cycle, some within our control, others not.  Often we spend too much time, energy and emotion worrying about the things we can’t control, while deliberately ignoring and not attending to things we can control, and would make a difference if we did.  Some elements or factors are not that back and white, while we may not control them, we can ride and leverage them to help us succeed.

One example of this maybe momentum, we can’t directly initiate or ensure momentum, there are things we can do to leverage momentum to help us sell.  As with other forms of black art, sales people can best leverage momentum by grounding their sales approach in routine and discipline, this in turn helps you put you in the right place more often to create and increase momentum when it is with you, and to neutralize it when it is against you.

According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, “40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.”  Start by reviewing the things you do every day and through the sales cycle.   The first challenge is recognizing the habits that are holding you back, and then replacing them with habits that leads to success.  Then it gets a bit harder, actually replacing bad habits with good, this can be harder than quitting smoking, as someone who has done both, I know this first hand.

Funny thing about momentum, it seems to follow your habits, the more of the right basics, the more other elements fall into place.  We see this time and time again, when we work with people through the initial 12 weeks of the Proactive Prospecting Program, participants adopt and execute new practices and disciplines, i.e. change their habits, resulting in more opportunities in their pipeline, and they see momentum going their way.  Whereas before, when their habits kept them from having a healthy pipeline filled with choice, momentum seemed to be always against them.

surfingSo here is a simple example.  I repeatedly see reps commit to say an hour of prospecting a day, not that much in the scheme of things, but I would argue one of the most important hours of the day.  Usually this is based on their specific time range based on their individual output from The Activity Calculator.  Some have the habit of doing a whole bunch of things related to prospecting, without ever actually prospecting, this includes research, prep, BS, you name it; at the end of the hour, few if any new prospects.  So while they have built momentum for “getting ready”, they have added to the momentum keeping them for success, cause their ain’t nothing new in their pipeline.

Even when they get an appointment, they see it as an opportunity (excuse) to stop.  What a waste!  If you set aside for prospecting, do it for an hour; most people get more relaxed after they succeed, in this case secure an opportunity, so why not keep going, and have momentum work for you.   Same can be said for the rest of their pipeline, as soon as they get a few opportunities to Discovery, they figure that good times are here to stay.  They are but only for those who have developed the habit of making prospecting part of their ongoing routine.  Maybe it’s just me, but I do my best prospecting when my pipeline is full, and do the worst when my pipeline is depleted.  I would rather face having an overflowing pipeline offering choice, than the desperation an empty pipeline brings.  By seizing momentum when things are going my way, usually as a result of habit and execution, I can ensure that my pipeline and opportunities will always be sufficient.  Just as the reality of no pipeline, no opportunities, bring a momentum that is hard to reverse.  The right habits consistently applied, will help you build you momentum and ride the wave.

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pearl

Prospecting For Pearls2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Regardless of what some might tell you, there are elements of sales that are quite organic, and as a result there are lessons we can take from nature. One is that not all things that lead to real value start smoothly or simply, but as the process unfolds, the end result can be both a thing of beauty and value. That’s one way I like to look at prospecting, specifically telephone prospecting, yes cold calling.

I like to think of a cold call, the very start of an engagement with a prospect, as being very much like the start of the process in the making of a pearl. There is no denying that the pearl starts out as an irritant, an intrusion from the outside; but then over time, ongoing interaction, things develop, and where the end result is a thing of beauty and value.

Let’s be straight, I am not suggesting that you set out to irritate anyone intentionally, but at times you may not have a choice if you are going to help and win new customers. This is especially so with prospect who are removed from the market, the Status Quo, who left to their own, are not actively engaged in or thinking about buying anything, beyond “social” reach; this is usually in excess of 70% of you target market. These prospects, who are not self-declared buyers, may perceive the initial approach as a nuisance or aggravation.

I get it, cold calls are irritating, even cold calls that executed well; but I would also argue, not for the reason most think and fear. Sure bad calls are bad no matter what, but when done right, the reality is that we are making the prospect face things they have been able to ignore and burry, and avoid dealing with. They know what they have is not just far from not perfect, but not even close to ideal. It is just that they have decided that “the pain of the same is less that the pain of the change”. Initiating that change, the catalyst that leads to action, not just denying or ignoring the issue, may not be pleasant to start.

Those who a) understand that, and b) understand how they will manage the buyer experience, have the greatest success in telephone prospecting. To be successful at cold calls you need to be able to talk to outcomes and changes that will benefit the buyer and deliver the business impacts they are looking to achieve. This starts with understanding what outcomes you have been able to others in similar roles, in similar type of environments.

If you call a small fleet operator and initiate the call peaking about pains and needs they have not acknowledged, your fate is sealed before the first ring. Yet this is what most sales people and pundits go for: pains, needs, problems, (solutions), efficiencies, and all the things that prospects have turned a deaf ear to for years. Instead, you can call and speak to how you can help them get more service calls in a given day, or how you can help them extend the life of their vehicles, and improve their return on assets, or how you can help them reduce fuel costs while allowing them to wear a “green” halo. These are things not tied to pain, but to outcomes, things people are always thinking about, and more willing to hear more about.

The best sellers understand that part of their job description is “disruptive marketing”, which includes the willingness and ability to take an interruption to a conversation, an irritating grain of sand to a pearl.

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3 Things To Not Say In Prospecting Calls0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Many sellers ask me what they should add to or say in an initial telephone prospecting call.  Having listened to and analyzed thousands of calls, I have come to the conclusion that most sales would make great strides if they first focused on what to leave out of their calls.  There are things that people say in the call that make sense based in “normal” situations, but prospecting, cold calling people who you have never spoken to, who are not expecting your call, not looking for your product, and were busy doing something they thought was important at the time you called.

As discussed in the past, your prospect has heard it all before, if they get five calls a day, that’s 25 a week, 1,200 a year, some 6,000 calls over the last five years, so you have to break through the apathy and “deafness” if you are to have any chance at all.  This means not just being different from the others, but sounding different than all the other callers they’ll encounter this week.

To help you avoid sounding like the also rans who did not get the deal, here are three things to leave out of your initial prospecting call; BTW, I have heard all of these in the last week, by people who most would consider to be “good” sales people.  Here we go:

  1. How are you? – I know it sounds simple, polite, and innocent, but it adds little if anything to the call, and opens some risk. I have a very binary view of initial calls, if something does not add measurable upside to the call does not belong in the call, “how are you?” is definitely one.  It is one the things that we hate about the calls we get in the middle of dinner, where a strange voice asks how you are as though they were your best friends concerned about your day.  Skip it, respect their time and intelligence, instead of asking how they are, get to why you are calling.
  1. Is this a good time? – No! As I have spoken about on this blog in the past, our job is that of “professional disruptors”, professional interrupters.  By definition, a cold call is when we call someone who does not know us, is not expecting our call, but fits the profile of someone who would benefit from out offering.  With all that, no it is not a good time, but I really don’t care, because I have something important for the prospect, something that will help them achieve their objectives and improve their business.
  1. Who is in Charge Of? – I know, but this still goes on. Wanna tell a prospect you don’t care, you can’t be bothered, or that you really don’t enjoy your job, just start the call like that.  I swear if I had a dollar for every time I hear that each week, I could subsidize my coffee habit.  It is no longer impossible to find anyone, and if all else fails, ask for a specific title, “May I speak to the VP of Operations”.  Or pick an afternoon and call in advance to collect names to be ready when you make the money call.

Now I know some will sit there and say “I know this, this is too basic”, and you would be right, which is what makes these kind of calls so wrong.

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