Are you getting ready to start making sales calls? Want to make sales call plan? Or simply looking to refine your technique or get a competitive advantage?
Then this article if you for you.
I’m going to share with you 4 secrets (and 14 tips) I have used time and again to get sales call success. And the good news is, anyone can use them!
Let’s get into it!
The King is dead! Long live the King!
In a world where we crave connection more than ever, the phone is once again becoming the medium of choice for smart business owners and salespeople. Because, whilst most businesses are competing for your already saturated attention through digital ads, actually talking to someone is a golden opportunity to stand out from the crowd and make real connections.
And best of all, almost no one else is using it!
But, that doesn’t mean that getting sales by phone is easy. In fact, it’s as tough as ever – unless you have a plan and know what you are doing.
#1 Identifying who you are calling
The easiest way to fail in a phone call is to waste your time and energy by calling the wrong prospects, because:
So to combat this, before you start making sales calls, get crystal clear on who you want to speak to.
Really think about:
If you don’t have one already, capture all this information in a buyer persona, or multiple buyer personas depending on your business and how many target customers you have.
Ideal Client List
Next, using you buyer persona’s, it’s time to do a bit of research and find your perfect customers. LinkedIn is a great tool to start this process. Use the search functions to find a list of your ideal customers.
You can also try industry publications, ASX listing (e.g. look for the biggest customers by market cap or revenue in your space), or other sources you can think of. And don’t forget to go through your existing network, including prospects you engaged in the past but didn’t convert to customers – if they fit your ideal customer profile, perhaps it’s worth opening up the discussion again.
And be sure to capture critical information somewhere you can easily refer to later (we’ll cover CRM’s shortly).
#2 Being clear on when to call them
Firstly, lets agree on something: you are not going to get a sale on your first call.
If someone calls you out of the blue – someone you’ve never heard from before – what are the chances you’ll buy?
Even if you absolutely needed their product, the chances are slim at best.
And the higher the value of the product or service, the more accurately this rule will apply.
So instead switch your focus from trying to get a sale, to building a relationship.
I recommend that on your first call you ask your customer for nothing.
Instead, your objective is to get permission to send them something of genuine value to them.
On your second call, your objective might be slightly more ambitious – such as securing a meeting, or a follow up call – and if they have received value from whatever you shared after call 1, you have a higher chance of reaching your objective.
But again, approach it from the perspective of what’s in it for them.
The sequence of calls and objectives we discussed above can be mapped out in advance in a Sales Cadence.
A sales cadence is a series of small steps, you will take your prospect through, building towards your ultimate goal of getting a sale. And generally, the bigger the sale, the more steps, and the longer your sales cadence will be.
Plus, going back to the question of when you will call, a Sales Cadence should also map out when you are going to contact your customer at each stage i.e. how much time between contacts.
You’ll want to find a balance between staying front of mind and not being a pest!
For clients I work with, I typically expect 7 to 12 personalised touchpoints over 1 to 3 months before we can determine if an individual is interested or not.
The goal is to get a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ after that time.
Even if you have a plan in place, the sequence can be based on the individual and what vibe they’re giving back to you. So, while we say put a sequence in place, it’s important to also follow your gut.
Get a CRM
As you start to contact and feed more prospects into your sales cadence, you can quickly lose track of where you are at with each prospect.
This is where CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software comes into its element.
Unlike working in spreadsheets or your calendar, using a good CRM tool will keep all your prospect and customer data in a dedicated platform and allow you to store notes and critical information and set follow-up tasks (with reminders).
A CRM is critical in helping you stay organised. Working with spreadsheets and your calendar just won’t cut it.
Personally, I see the best results when the same CRM tool is used for both potential and existing clients.
It will also give you really good visibility over your whole pipeline, and what sort of outcomes you’re going to see from the work you’re putting in.
#3 Planning what to say
Sales Call Plan
Now, let’s tackle the elephant in the room: picking up the phone can be nerve-wracking.
It takes courage to call a stranger.
And if, when someone answers, you suddenly find yourself tongue-twisted, you’ve forgotten what you are going to say and start mumbling something or other while sweating profusely, you’re not alone.
Which is why we start by creating a sales call plan in advance to fall back on.
Have a few prompts.
Your sales call plan can’t cover every eventuality, and that’s OK. But what you can do is create a structure that covers the key points, keeps you on track, and which you can fall back on when (if) you get caught up in the moment and lose your way.
I have a 50:50 rule I live by. I plan 50% of what I’m going to say, in full awareness that 50% of the call will be led by the prospect.
Write your structure down and rehearse it. Practice calling a colleague or friend if you need to.
Test and refine until you’re happy.
Get their name right
There is no greater conversation killer than saying a prospects name wrong or forgetting it entirely – let’s just say it breaks with sales call etiquette :-).
If in doubt right it down before hand. Google pronunciations (check out this fun little tool), or ask co-worker their thoughts.
In worse case scenarios, you can use it as a bit of an ice-breaker by asking them if you pronounced their name correctly.
Remember that you’ve done your research and what you’re about to talk about is going to give them value.
Open with something like:
‘Hi, this is Kirsten. I’m calling from [company name] and I’m looking to speak to Andy, please.’
If you find that instead of your ideal prospect, a personal assistant, for example, answers the phone, don’t be scared.
Once again, it’s all about preparation.
Think about what they would usually ask. Typically, they just want to know the reason for the call. So, give them what they want!
I’ve heard of all sorts of tricks for dealing with gatekeepers. However, for me, success comes down to honesty and confidence.
And if you don’t get through, be persistent. Build a relationship with the gatekeeper. If they like you, they are far more likely to connect you in the end.
If you miss your prospect, leave a voicemail and tell them that you are going to email them. Always keep your message to under a minute.
There are several advantages to this:
People love speaking about themselves. And we, as human beings, are generally more attracted to people who show an interest in us i.e. ask us questions about ourselves.
Use this to your advantage. Get people talking about themselves will build rapport more quickly and get them to open up to you more quickly.
For a top tip, ask follow up questions – these are not questions you can capture in your sales call plans, but questions you ask as a result of what the prospect has said. It shows you are listening and has an even more powerful effect (as this study reveals).
The quicker you get your prospects talking about themselves, the quicker the conversations will warm up. So, ask good questions, right from the start of your conversation.
Be clear and concise
Leave your industry acronyms at the door – you may think they make you sound intelligent, but they could potentially alienate your prospect. No one likes being made to feel stupid.
Instead, use simple language that is easy to understand. Imagine you are talking to a 12-year-old.
Be very specific about what you want.
Spend some time before the call planning what you want to get out of it.
But, whatever it is…
…be sure to ask.
If you don’t ask, how can you expect the other person to understand what you want?
Get comfortable hearing the word ‘no’
Know this: if you are uncomfortable hearing the word ‘no’, you’re completely normal.
It is common to dislike the word ‘no’. No one likes rejection.
Remember, a ‘no’ is not an objection; it’s just an obstacle that needs to be faced head on and discussed with the prospect there and then.
Don’t let a ‘no’ go unaddressed.
You will hear the same objections (or variations of them) over and over again.
So, prepare your responses in advance. And practice them until they roll off the tongue easily.
Remember that each time you get a ‘no’, there are two big positives:
#4 Knowing how to say it
People can hear everything through your voice, and the way you feel comes across on the phone.
Think about when a friend calls you who is down in the dumps, versus someone who is excited and has great news to share. You feed off their energy.
So the tone of voice is absolutely critical, because just as the person on the other end can hear nerves, they can “hear” your smile.
If you are struggling with a bit of confidence before the call, my top tip is to stand up while you call – it helps with projection.
And smile even if you have to force it at first.
If in doubt...just do it!
I consider myself highly experienced at sales calls, yet even I have fears and doubts.
But sometimes you’ve just got to jump on in there and get started.
And as a little reminder, I like to think of Nike’s ‘Just do it’ slogan. When I’m in doubt, I ‘just do it’!
The phone is once again a powerful tool for accessing your ideal customer. And there are four key ingredients for success I live by:
Follow these guidelines and focus on these four areas and you are setting yourself up for success.
Now go out and smash it!