Slow and low

Slow & Low – The Right Recipe For Great Prospecting0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Next week both Canada and the US celebrate their respective independence days, which means barbecues galore, and as you may have guessed, an opportune lesson for cold callers everywhere. Most cold callers, carnivores and vegetarians, make the same common errors in executing their telephone prospecting calls, many of these mistakes contribute to their lack of success, making the whole thing a further mess.

Part of the negative cycle revolves around the fact that they are way too nervous, anticipating the worst, as a result many rush the call, leading to the outcome they feared. There are a couple of specific things telephone prospectors do that if approached differently would help overcome the challenge, alter the results and their view of cold calling; once mastered, they will find the whole thing much more productive and profitable. This is where the barbeque lesson comes in, making a good prospecting call is like making a good southern brisket, slow and low.

First thing that happens to nervous callers is they speed up their speaking, going faster than they normally would, and way faster than what makes for an effective prospecting call. This triggers a similar response from the buyer, they get nervous at the barrage of words coming at them, and they look for the exit even quicker. Ever deliver you into (at a nervous pace) only to have the prospects ask, “I’m sorry, who is this, what’s this about?” And before you can answer, you’re on your heels, and the call ends without engagement.

Slow and lowSlow down Man, it’s not a race. I know most want the call to be over more than they want the appointment, but is not about completing the activity (fast), it’s about engaging with potential prospect. Slowing down takes practice, repeated and out loud. Slow down your breathing before you pick up the phone and maintain the pace through the call. If you’re not too macho, get a metronome, and stick to the rhythm. I know sounds silly, till you start connecting with prospects and getting appointments.

The low part has to do with voice and pitch. When callers get nervous their voice gets higher, I’ve heard grown men sound more like their sisters than themselves. This makes it harder for the buyer to comprehend what the caller is saying, and obscures their message. Think about some of the great radio voices or TV voice overs, think about James Earl Jones famous “this is CNN”. As with slowing down, this comes down to practicing, and again out loud.

In a tension filled call, any element of distraction can be a negative and work against you, when you sound squeaky and speak fast, the two just compound in a way that makes it hard to achieve your objective.

One overlooked way to help with these two factors is to have a well prepared script, this will reduce the nervousness, and with practice limit the speed and pitch. Get over the self-imposed fear of scripts, and you’re a long way towards overcoming this and other prospecting roadblocks. Next time you pick up the phone, think brisket, slow and low.

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Frayed

Success Breeds Prospects0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Most sales people tend to ease off on their prospecting when they have a healthy pipeline. They feel that there is plenty to work, they have a number of prospects on the go, and tell me, that their time is better used to drive the opportunities in the pipeline, and figure that they will prospect for more opportunities once the current pipeline solidifies. While the disjointed thinking of that logic is obvious to most, like “lemmings“, many sales people follow a path that ultimately leads less success.

Let’s say you close all the deals in your pipeline, let’s say; what will you work on the next day? We have all been on the pipeline roller-coaster. All kinds of opportunities to close at the peak, desperately prospecting (praying and hoping), at the bottom. Sure, it’s absurd, but sales pros choose to repeat it over and over, even though changing their habits is less stressful in the long run. So, what’s the alternative?

We have all heard the expression, and many of us have experienced first hand that Success does indeed breed success. In sales, the reality is that pipeline success leads to more success. Prospecting when your pipeline is “overflowing”, is one of the most fun things you can do. Sales professionals who take a balanced approach to their pipeline, meaning prospecting, finding new opportunities, is as important as closing any opportunity in your pipeline.

FrayedMost people don’t like prospecting because of the stress of having to add an opportunity sooner rather than later. That pressure is amplified when you have depleted all the opportunities, the emptier your pipeline, the more that silence reverberates the further your quota is out of reach. This pressure is very apparent to your prospects, even when you are hiding behind a phone, e-mail, or LinkedIn. They can smell a desperate seller a mile away in a storm. Mistakes come easier, frustration surfaces faster, and most seller’s results are much worse than they have to be; accelerating the downward spiral.

On the other hand, when your pipeline is full, you can truly forecast a successful month or quarter, there is hardly pressure at all. Every day you are focused on things that are driving deals, allowing you to leverage not just the energy in your prospecting, but the things your buyers responding to positively are the very things you can use in your prospecting. Just as they can smell fear, they can sense and respond to success. The way we carry ourselves when things are good, is positive and attractive. Buyers want to deal with successful professionals, something we can’t claim to be when our pipeline is low, when our energy is drained before we even pick up the phone or send an e-mail.

I suspect one reason people leave dead opportunities is so they can fool themselves out of prospecting. “I don’t need to prospect, look at all the things in the pipeline I can work on”. Right.

The solution is simple, make prospecting a habit. Base on your metrics, how many “meetings” do you need to generate to have enough coverage to get you to goal. Once you calculate that, you can have a good sense of how much time you will need to allocate to the activity each week, all through the cycle. It is usually less than you would think, it is only because we let it build up in our mind that it seems ominous. (Well, that and the rejection). I know how long it takes me to get an appointment, and I know how many appointments I need to succeed. But there is no denying that I am much better when the pipe is full, frankly because the state of my pipeline gives me the confidence to relaxed, focus and successful, which in turn gets me more prospects.

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OBS Sales Experts

girl by phone

Objections – Cause – Effect – Resolution2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Telephone prospecting is hard, in fact so hard that most people spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy trying to avoid it. What they are really trying to avoid is the rejection part of the call, “The Objection”. That’s why alternate means of engagement have such a great appeal for the masses (washed or unwashed, you decide), whatever your view of social selling, there is no direct rejection. Somehow, some sellers can differentiate and compartmentalize rejection from being ignored; they may not blow you off in a direct way, they just pretend you’re not there. The net effect is the same, no engagement, no prospect.

The problem for many would-be tele-prospectors is that they see the objection as being separate from the rest of the call. They love to brag about their company and product early in the call, (mistake), and are surprised when the voice on the other end say, “no interest”. What they fail to understand is that their intro, the start of the talk track (or script for you traditionalists), has a direct impact on the response.

Nothing to do with the school of sales one is from, and everything thing to do with human nature. The good news is that both parties in this drama are human, giving us ways to deal with this in a way that yields results for both. How we start a conversation directly dictates what kind of response we get. For example, if a parent scolds a child for being late, the child will quietly take in the words, but not the message, offering a meek, if any response at all. Alternatively, if the parent took the opportunity to present a life lesson, taking a conversant tone and carefully selected words, the child is much more likely to take in the message, leading to entirely different (better) reaction and response, making them more open and engaged.

girl by phoneSo while you will never be able to avoid objections in telephone prospecting, or being ignored in other forms of prospecting, you can do things to limit the number of potential objections, and keeping objections to predictable and manageable set. You can then practice how to take away those most common objections that result from your well and purposefully crafted introduction.

Remember, the person you’re calling has literally heard all this before, thousands of times. As soon as they hear a voice buzzing on about “leading provider”, “cutting edge solution”, or any set of words immediately followed by “awesome”, the prospect starts desperately search for their fly swatter, and start flinging objections at the buzzing sound emanating from their phone.

The logical conclusion is that to avoid fatal and unpredictable objections, we need to change what we talk about at the top of the call. Namely, things the prospect was likely thinking about before you interrupted their day. If that interruption is in line with what they were focused on, you will still get an objection, after all, you are an interruption, but it is likely to be one of a handful, literally 5, objections. Focus on their objectives and the impacts you have delivered for others with similar objectives, and you will get the predictable response, allowing you to take away that objection in a predictable fashion that will lead to a conversation, which is the first step in engagement.

Once you know the cause, you can resolve it, and change the outcome.

Learn the specifics of handling the most common prospecting objections:

OHH N

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pier

Are your prospecting calls a long run off a short pier?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sellers are a wonderfully optimistic lot, having drank the Kool Aid about their “solution”, believing that they are indeed the cavalry coming over the hill to heal all that pains their potential prospects. This unbridled optimism and energy works great when you have a willing audience, say a play, where the audience comes with interest and openness to the message. That however is not the reality of a prospecting call, or dare I say, cold call; enthusiasm is not enough, in fact can be your undoing.

In no way do I want to douse your enthusiasm, but I do want to infuse a bit of reality into how prospecting unfolds these days. While I use calls to demonstrate the points, the basics hold true for e-mails, or other forms of “disruptive selling”. You can dress it up any way you like, but if your call or e-mail or other method of approach is not scheduled, and is news to the recipient, then we are disrupting that buyer. Nothing wrong with that, you are practicing Disruptive Marketing; if they taught Sales 2.0 or 3.0 were cool, Disruptive Marketing is just plain Arctic. Take pride in what you do, change the title on your card to read “Professional Interrupter”.

If you are going to interrupt someone, make it count, make every second of the call count, especially the first few. Even in an e-mail, if your subject line sucks, and your opening line is subpar, you’re beat from the start, as the prospect will never take in the real reason you called or they should speak with you. Those first few seconds are crucial, which is why I don’t understand why some many seller, so many professional interrupters, squander those important seconds.

Time after time I hear sales people talk about the most irrelevant things when the prospect unsuspectingly answers the phone. Rather than dealing with and delivering to the most important thing the prospect wants to know, i.e. “What’s In It For Me?” They ramble on about stuff not even their wives care about.

Caller: “Hi my name is Harvey Brown, I am the mid-Atlantic Account Executive for Blah Blah Inc., a Fortune 500 company and award winning manufacture of Machines Learning Widgets”. Frankly who really cares, Mom?

From the prospects’ perspective, you are almost at the end of the pier, and you haven’t even turned the corner of saying anything of interest to the prospect. With this approach, by the time you get to anything they may be able to evaluate and base a meeting on, the prospect has certainly checked out mentally if not hung up. In the case of e-mail, you can bet your last dollar that they have deleted your e-mail by now and have moved on.

What’s in it for them is not who you are, what you do, who you sell for, or what you sell. What’s in it for them are the outcomes and impacts on their business. So, start your call with that.

pier

Start with the very end, and then use your sales meeting to work back to why your product. Lead with the impacts on their business, what it will look like after they buy from you, don’t focus on what they are buying from you. If they don’t see the “how things will be different (better), then they could care less about what you sell. To do this you need to inject it into the call early, and not waste time giving long rambling demographical data that will make you run out of pier long before you can deliver the impact.

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Close-up Of Businessperson Holding Stopwatch With Stack Of Coins At Desk

Time – To Let Go0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Let’s be clear, no white flags here, just a reminder that the most crucial thing to control in a winning sales career is time. As I have stated here in the past, “leads are recyclable, time is not”, if what you are doing now is not moving the opportunity or sale forward, you need to ask if it is time to move on to something that will. In my experience, this is most pronounced during the early stages of the cycle, prospecting.

Given that most sales people do not like to prospect, they should be thinking about how to optimize the dreaded task, so they can engage better with more prospects, and move on to what they really seem to like, building relationships. To optimize prospecting time there a number of things they can do, we’ll look at two here.

First is their prep for the time they have set aside for prospecting, in this case telephone prospecting (one of a number of methods they should use). Your call lists should be grouped or clustered around specific themes. This can be vertical, geographical, target size/type, or even role based. This allows you to develop a single talk track that can be leveraged across a number of calls. Allow you to highlight outcomes that are common to that day’s list, 3rd party referrals for voice mail, and more. Rather than having gaps between calls, taking away from momentum, and drastically limiting the number of calls you can make in say an hour, you can make one call after the other, building momentum, increasing your confidence, and achieving more in a given period of time. It has been shown that when you are going back and forth between two tasks, making the call, and readying for the call, you end up executing both less effectively. At the same time if you can focus on a specific task, uninterrupted, for about 52 minutes, you build efficiency. Separate the tasks, do your background work in low energy times, and do your prospecting during peak Prime Time hours.

The other area is the length of the call. A good prospecting call, where the goal is to get the prospect to agree to a formal meeting, be that phone, web, or face to face, really should not take any more than two minutes, three out the outside. In most instances, anything longer than that moves into the “diminishing return” zone.

Assuming your intro and Engage Statement (think of it as an effective value statement), capped off with an Impact Question, takes us to about 45 seconds; their answer which tees up the request for the appointment takes us to the minute mark, and now comes the fun part the objections. Each objection given – and then taken away by you, is about 20 or so seconds, remember the goal here is engagement, not an intellectual exchange. If you have read the Objection Handling Handbook, you know the first objection is a conditioned response, and by the time you get to the third one, the fate of the call is usually sealed, at times it takes four. So, we are looking at another minute to a minute and a half.

Anything after that is working against you. If they don’t want to play, all they’ll take away is how unprofessional you were, not only wasting and disrespecting their time, but your own, and no one wants to deal with that kind of rep, even when the time is right. Or worse, you are trying to sell them when your goal at the outset was to schedule a time for the actual discovery and sale.

I see so many sales people stay on the phone with someone for 10, 15 minutes, and have nothing when the call ends; well frustration, but you can’t cash that. Others achieve their goal, a prospect who agrees to engage, and then they stay on and talk themselves out of that appointment in the same call. If you do have someone agree, you should expect they may have questions, and you want to answer that question in a way that best moves the opportunity forward, and if that is a formal meeting, that’s what you should move towards. Next time you have someone agree to an appointment, and they start asking those “good” questions, simply say “That’s a great question Jim/Jill (I’m so PC), why don’t we make that first item on the agenda and give it full justice; look forward to our call Thursday, let me grab your e-mail and I’ll send an invite.” This sets you up for a great start to the discovery call, and allows you to move on to set the next appointment.

Remember, leads are recyclable – time is not – guard your time!

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Boss choosing employee

Why Make The Call2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One reason many give me for not wanting to prospect, is the fact that fewer people are answering their phones, and as a result it is not as effective as other forms of prospecting. Part of that is dictated by what state or mode the buyer is in, Actively Looking buyers may be more prone to a call, while, Status Quo buyers, are less likely to answer or engage. But I believe the conclusion many draw from this, i.e. “telephone prospecting is ineffective”, is flat out wrong.

First having a single form of approaching potential prospects, especially “not interested” buyers like Status Quo, is just stupid. Anyone that tells you that their chosen means of reaching prospects is just stupid. There are as many effective means as there are people; not only that, but individuals’ response/reaction to approaches will vary based on specific circumstances. So having one method, be that strictly phone work, strictly referral, or strictly social, is just asking for failure. The best prospectors, who are usually the best sellers, know that their prospecting toolkit has to have as many tools as possible rather than limited to one. For example, I worked with one executive who when traveling would be more likely to respond to texts, leaving e-mail and voice mail for the hotels in the evening, while back at the office he would be much more likely to answer the phone, and hit e-mail regularly.

Now it is true that less people are answering their calls as they come in, I have not seen anyone, even the most social of sellers, present any data that suggests that people check their voice mails less. Meaning a good voice mail can still have an impact, and lead to a return call. I regularly get 40% – 50% of messages I leave, returned in about 72 hours. So don’t blame the technology, blame the user.

But let’s dial things back a little, and let’s for a moment accept a complete falsehood many sellers have bought into: “voice mails do not get returned”, there is still merit to leaving a voice mail, and making the call. Why – touch-points.

Based on different inputs, it can take anywhere from 8 – 12 touch-points to get a response from a prospect. (BTW – no guarantee that the response will be positive, we still have to work to get the appointment even when they respond). In that case, the voice mail, even when not returned, still serves a purpose. Combined with other means of communication, each touch-point compounds the ones that came before it and improve your chances of speaking to the prospects.

The same executive referenced above also shared that he specifically ignores the first three attempts by sellers, because he knows most will fall away after the first three touch-points, and the ones who really want to speak to him will continue to demonstrate that and their creativeness as they deliver the 4th, 6th or 9th touch-point.

Work out your pursuit plan, and keep a couple of things in mind. Mix things up, you have access to office phone, mobile phone, text, snail mail, LinkedIn, and more, the only shortage to variety is your imagination. Do it frequently and consistently, meaning don’t wait a week after your initial touch-point, a couple days is good. Go for eight yes 8, touch-points in the course of two business weeks. If you find that harsh, start by adding one more touch-point to your current weekly routine; in a few weeks add one more, and so on till you hit your minimum 8. (See example).

Cadence 1

Yes phone work has changed, and so should you, make the call, just know why.

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Young female scientist injecting GMO into   potato in  laboratory

What If Prospecting Were Cancer?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Not to be overly dramatic, but most people who find out they have caner or any terminal disease, will immediately seek a cure, take steps to change their lifestyle or habits to alter their fate. Rarely or ever would they ignore it or make changes to unrelated things as a means of healing the illness. Well, most except some VP’s of Sales or sales leaders.

You would not believe the number of these folks I meet with, who unprompted, without “probing” or cajoling, share with me their concerns about the state of their team’s pipelines, and the lack of new opportunities. When I ask what they attribute that to, they tell me:

  • Their people are ineffective at prospecting
  • Preferring to spend time with existing customers
  • They spend all their time researching on the web and social media – very little time leveraging the research by actually putting it to good use
  • Or just not wanting to do it at all

This of course leaves them in precarious position, while there may be good organic growth that they can coast on for a while, the new revenue coming in is only slightly ahead of their natural client attrition rate; leaving them only one breath away from a client leaving, and the whole year going pear shape.

You would think that once they examine and understand the symptoms, the risks and severity of the situation, they would address the cause as directly and effectively as possible. But no, the VP”s/Leaders in question, seem to feel that it is better to focus and deal with something else, some other element of sales as a means of addressing the issue. It sometimes reminds me of an old joke, where a farmer is suffering greatly with a tooth ache, as a cure, his friend and fellow farmer suggests that he drop a cement block on his toes, “Ya, you’ll forget that tooth ache in no time at all.” Now I have nothing against alternatives to main stream medical care, but even I know there are only so many toes you can break before you have to see a real doctor.

Seriously, they will deal with and change anything than what counts, i.e. their people’s ability to properly prospect. A popular favourite, probably due to visibility, is to focus on the “leads”; yup, “better leads”, or “more leads”. That’s the ticket, they are ignoring the leads they have now, or making at best a token effort, so let’s give them more to squander. A variation on the theme, “lets hire a lead gen firm.” So one company locally did that, and their reps came back:

“The leads suck”
Why?
‘The guy said he is not ready for at least six months”
How long is your sales cycle?
“About 4 months” (Data pulled from their CRM by sales ops showed just over 6 months)

But even if it was four months, seems like the right length of runway to unfold the sales properly at a relaxed pace. But it seemed the preferred method was to wait, till everyone is all over the buyer like white on rice, and then engage, just around the buyer has made their choice and is looking for pricing.

Another leader who after deciding that his people needed to prospect more regularly and do it better when they do, put the team through a presentations skills program. I guess his theory was that if any of the team ran into a prospect, (by mistake), they would be adept at presenting.

If prospecting was cancer, most people would deal with it directly, regardless of the effort required. Seems to me that having a continuously anaemic pipeline, or one full with names growing fungus like the orange we forgot in the back of the fridge, points to the fact that you have a cancer in your sales organization: deal with it, before it deals with your career.

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Hot and cold phones

What’s The Difference Between A Cold Call and Warm Call?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

The simple answer is that one is scheduled, and the other is not. Some may add that in a warm call the recipient may be aware of the person calling and the reason for the call, usually in the form of a referral. Some may add that one can “warm up” a call by doing research and having something relatable for the recipient, so they don’t blow you off as quick.

But the reality is that the difference is in your head.

Any unscheduled call, be it from a referral or from an overly informed rep, is an interruption. That’s why I tell people that I work with to reorient how they think about their work. If you are calling people who do not have a call scheduled in their calendar, you are interrupting them – next time someone asks you what you do for a living, I want you to say with great pride – “I am a professional interrupter; I interrupt people in the process of helping them achieve their objectives and delivering positive impact on their business.”

Download your copy of the Objection Handling Handbook

The challenge for most sales people, and the reason the call leaves them feeling cold, is that they are unprepared for the series of events and reactions their interruption sets into process.

After having research the company in an effort to warm the call, they figure that they have something relevant to say, and fail to take into account the interruption. So they wax poetic, all the while the prospect is thinking “how can I get back to work”. This is just compounded when they are usually talking about “solutions”. Given that 70% or more of the market is not looking for a solution, the interruption just seems worse when they deem the message to be irrelevant. Add to this that they have heard this same approach a thousand times before. So what can you do, focus on Objectives, not pains or needs; every business has objectives, align with those, and you’ll go from an irritating interruption, to an interruption with possibilities. Yet few research, they continue to research for problems some may have that fit their solution, rather than the other way around. You want the reaction to be “I was thinking about this”, not “WTF is this guy talking about”, leading to a click or objection.

When the objection comes, most sales people take the rejection personally. After all, they spent all this time researching the company, the person, and god knows what else, and at the moment of interruption, it seems all for not. As soon as it is personal, people get defensive, and it’s all downhill from there.

Managing and overcoming objections on a cold call starts long before they come up in the call. We interrupt, that triggers specific reaction. As before, if the initial narrative was a “solution” based intro, most reps defend and double down on that narrative, thus accelerating their fate. But if the intro was based on Objectives, doubling down on those allows you to expand your potential value rather than limit it.

If you can accept that you are an interruption, and focus on objectives and impacts, you will be in a position to manage and take away objections, and move towards a conversation – a sales conversation about their objectives, not pains, needs or solutions.

Download your copy of the Objection Handling Handbook

Hot and cold phones
Red closed door behind open doors, isolated on white background.

Closing Is Easy0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One of the most common things I hear from sellers is “Get me in front of the right guy, and I can close them”. Big deal, so could any monkey dressed in the right suit, that’s why the big money in B2B sales is made by those who can actually get in front of the right guy long before the closing monkeys show up, those who can OPEN.

Closing opportunities that were initiated by the buyer themselves is cute, but is it enough? When asked if they can meet or exceed quota relying strictly on deals that were initiated by the buyer, most admit the answer is no. In addition to those who come to them, they have to identify, qualify, prospect and engage with potential buyers who left on their own, would not have stayed out of the market in the current timeframe.

When A Tree Falls In The Forest

When you ask sales people or organizations, whether they could make or exceed quota by closing only opportunities initiated by the buyers themselves, and most admit, no. Meaning they have to go out and prospect buyers, who left to their own, would stay on the sidelines, and remain oblivious to any social activity, messaging, or any other on line activity. It is very much like the tree falling in the forest. If the buyer is not online, but instead in their businesses, their shops, trucks, or offices, doing their thing, then they can’t see or interact with anything you may dangle out there. This, by the way, represents about 70% of any defined market, if not more.

Sure, one alternative is to double down, increase your efforts to entice and succeed with those buyers who are interacting with what you’re dangling. But we also have to remember that these buyers are rarely monogamous. They are visiting all your competitors’ sites, and playing footsie with all they’re dangling. In a “good enough” world, you all begin to look the same at about the 67% – 70% marker in the journey, leaving price as the big differentiator.

Back To The Start

Openers, know how to identify and speak with those 70% who are entrenched on the sideline. They can shape the thinking of the buyer much more so than one could at the 67% marker. While any intelligent buyer will compare you to others, Openers know how to frame the opportunity in ways that will directly influence how those buyers will filter your competitors.

The risk these days is that everyone is so fixated on closing, they overlook the need for Openers, placing all their early cycle success in means that are not delivering. While many bought into the SDR wave, stats about SaaS sales success can be scary by any standard. One reason again is that the emphasis is not opening the opportunity, creating a base for success, and without that foundation, it is hard to build.

Unfortunately, the discussion has eroded into a question of style, social vs. traditional. But impact has been deeper, as many who shun traditional prospecting, say telephone prospecting or cold calling, also abandon the skill of opening, as that step is left entirely to the buyer. Time to focus on why we do something, not just the how. For real sellers, the why is about the Open.

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Night view of rail tracks in depot, Kiev

Changing Your Path To #Prospecting #Success2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

No one says telephone prospecting is easy, which is why I am always puzzled as to why many sales people make it even more difficult than it already is. Many don’t set out to sabotage themselves, some are not even aware they are doing it, and many are just sadly following the advice of pundits who talk about but don’t actually telephone prospect. What many are doing is ignoring some basics communication realities that in a sales situation cannot and should not be ignored.

Over 90% of sales conversations are started or initiated by the seller, this goes to 100% of telephone prospecting calls, especially cold calls. So how we start the call will very much dictate the flow of the call, and even the reaction of the prospect. Start things the right way and you improve your odds, start the wrong way, and you dig a hole that will be hard to get out of. How you start a cold call matters, that’s why scripts are important.

While everyone agrees that the first few seconds of a call are crucial to the success of the call, most still chose to squander those precious seconds.

Most recipients of cold calls start down a path, in most cases that path is headed to them blowing us off and getting back to work. Our job is to either set them on a different path, or change the path they started down, if not, the conclusion is clear, no prospect, (they are back doing what they were before we interrupted), no opportunity, frustration, and time we will never recover, gone. This mainly happens because we play into the expectation of the prospects, instead of challenging those expectations.

Having listened to thousands of real world calls, most calls start by telling the prospect who is calling, and in its worst form this includes the callers title, and some self-serving statement about their employer: Hi, my name is George Handoff, I am the Mid-Atlantic Account Manager with ACME Corp. a Fortune 500 company and leading manufacturer of Sprocket Valves.” Who cares, what does that tell someone you have interrupted in the middle of their day? Do you really expect them to get excited about any of that? This is usually followed by highlighting the types of problems you have “solutions” for. No, that’s not the sound of them hanging up, it is their head hitting the disengage button as they fall asleep listening to all that, the ones that stay awake, just blow you off.

Given the fact that only about 3 of 10 people you call will recognize the problem, and only one of those three are willing to act now. The other seven could care less because they don’t see themselves in the picture, and your opening statement sets them down the path of “Who cares, I need to go back to work, good bye.”

To set them on a different path, why not start the call by highlighting what things look like after your product is in place. Lead with the outcomes! How many more units did you help someone produce in the same or less time; how did you improve their cash-flow; how much did you help increase market share, or how many of their target prospects did you help them land, how many more appointments did your prospects have as a result of your work, and what was the increase in pipeline value? Those are interesting opening that set the conversation on a path they not only can relate to, but want to achieve as well.

It’s not a big change, but one where you are presenting your capabilities via specific outcomes and impacts your clients had and were able to achieve as a result of your offering. That’s a path worth exploring, one they are thinking about, but no one is calling about, especially those waiting to be found.

The only reason many will tell you that cold calling sucks is because of the results they are getting. But rather than giving up on the cold call, they should give up on their approach, and try a path that has an ending of interest to prospects, be they Looking or Status Quo.

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