Sales calls are a necessary evil. We all know that. And, if you’re like most reps, you probably dread making them almost as much as the prospect does receive them.
However, sales calls are great at driving sales, which is why they’re so important when it comes to lead generation, even in today’s digital age.
We’ve all been through a common problem: having our prospects hang up on us after less than a minute and not having a clue about why they did. Is it because they can sense our desperation? Because we’re not engaging them properly at the beginning of the call?
If you’ve experienced these doubts before or are new to sales and want to up your game, here’s how you can open your sales calls so that prospects don’t hang up on you.
The first step to making any sales call last is ensuring that you have a plan. This means doing your research ahead of time and being familiar with your prospect’s business.
You should know things like their industry, their strengths and weaknesses, whether they’re a brick and mortar business or a fully-online business, and more. You should also know exactly who you will be talking with, what their needs are, and how your product or service can help them meet their goals.
Planning is similar for every call, so templates will make your job much easier and faster. It’ll also ensure you don’t miss any important items in your plan.
Templates also help entire sales teams have a unified approach to sales calls. You can try out some of these AI-generated templates such as “Engaging Questions” or “Unique Value Propositions” to help your team ideate responses and conversational points with prospects.
When it comes to scripting your calls, less is more.
A good rule of thumb is to script the beginning and end of the call, and then outline the key points you want to hit in the middle. This will allow you to sound natural on the call while still covering all the important bases.
The beginning of the call is the most important part to avoid being hung up on. The end is essential to meet the call’s objectives. Everything else needs to follow a clear path but must be as natural and easily adaptable as possible, which is something scripts are not great for.
It’s always good to practice your calls before getting on a real sales call with a prospect. This will help you sound more polished and avoid awkwardness or fillers in your speech. It also allows you to test out different approaches and see which ones sound more natural and work best for you.
When rehearsing, make sure to do it out loud to get used to hearing your own voice. Role-playing is also one of the most effective methods for practicing, so get a colleague or a friend to pose as your prospect and practice your response to different scenarios.
If possible, record yourself when practicing your call. Listen back to analyze your performance and identify any key areas of improvement.
Fear of rejection is a major mental block that can make your sales call suck, and you need to overcome it before you dial the first number.
As with all fears, the only way to overcome them is to face them. You need to embrace rejection as a natural part of the sales call process.
A great way to face rejection is to rehearse the call with a friend and have them reject your sales pitch in the worst, most unforgiving way they can. Put yourself in the worst-case scenario possible so that any rejection from a potential client will feel like a walk in the park.
Also, practice different ways to handle different rejections, so you’re better prepared and don’t stumble when you’re in the actual call.
You have only 10 seconds to catch your prospect’s attention before they hang up the phone, so you need to choose your first words carefully.
After politely greeting your prospect once they pick up the phone, the first thing you normally do is to confirm their identity.
How you do that can be a major game-changer. Something as simple as starting with “Good afternoon, am I talking with John Doe?” instead of “Good afternoon, am I speaking to John Doe?” frames the entire conversation differently.
In the first case, you acknowledge that you’re about to have a two-way conversation with your prospect, giving them due importance. In the second case, you’re basically sending the message that this will be a one-sided sales pitch where you talk, and they listen — something nobody likes.
Be quick to introduce yourself in a short and precise way, mentioning who you are, what you and your company do, and how you can help your prospect’s company with their most important pain points.
Whatever product or service you’re offering, say so straight up and make sure to point out how your service is different or better than the rest and clearly state how those differences can benefit your prospect. Don’t beat around the bush and be straightforward (but not pushy).
Establishing why your prospect should care to carry on with the call is the only way they’ll even consider continuing the conversation.
Once you’ve caught their attention, you need to build trust and rapport fast. There are many to accomplish this, but one of the most effective ways is to mention a mutual connection early on in the conversation.
For example, “I’m sure you know Bob Smith from XYZ Company. Well, he’s a good friend of mine and he suggested I give you a call.”
People tend to trust other people their friends also trust. This will immediately make your prospect feel more comfortable and open to talking with you since they’ll feel like they already know you through somebody they trust.
Every experienced sales rep knows that selling is a subtle art form. You need to find just the right balance between being too aggressive and being too polite, between playing it too safe and being too unpredictable.
When you’re assertive, you come across as being more credible and trustworthy. People are also more likely to believe what you say and take your recommendations seriously.
On the other hand, if you’re wishy-washy, your prospect will have a harder time taking you seriously and might even tune out completely.
Have you ever noticed how friends and family who get along well tend to mirror each others’ gestures, the way they talk, and sometimes even the way they act?
This subconscious behavior signals that we are enjoying our communication with others. It means that the two people talking agree with each other at some level and that they both find the conversation interesting.
You can’t mirror gestures or body language over the phone, but we tend to mirror the way others talk when we’re enjoying the conversation.
So, if you can manage to mirror your prospect’s tone of voice subtly, that’ll send a subconscious message to their brain that you’re both enjoying the conversation and agreeing on what you’re talking about. They’ll feel like you’re on the same wavelength and will be more likely to trust you.
How do you pull it off?
If they’re speaking quickly, try to speed up your speech a bit. If they’re speaking slowly, do the same. If they sound happy, inject some enthusiasm into your voice. If they sound angry or frustrated, try to empathize with them and show that you understand how they feel.
Try not to overshoot it, and you’ll be able to keep your prospect on the line for as long as necessary.
Reframing is a powerful technique that allows you to change the way someone perceives something, so they see it in a more positive light. You can use this technique to reframe objections and turn them into opportunities for further discussion.
For example, if your prospect says they’re not interested in your product, you can reply with something like, “I understand that you’re not interested in our product yet, but I think we might be able to help you with your XYZ problem.”
This immediately changes the focus of the conversation from whether or not they’re interested in your product to whether or not you can help them solve their specific problem. It also allows you to explain further how your product or service can help them and why it’s worth it for them to stay on the call.
It’s important to understand that every sales call is different. While following the above tips and suggestions will undoubtedly help you retain your prospect’s attention longer, there are still many things that can go wrong and trigger the unwanted hang-up unexpectedly.
Therefore, it’s also important to not feel discouraged when that happens and to take every apparent failure as an opportunity for growth and learning.
If you look at things from this perspective, you’ll never feel like you failed, helping you keep motivated for the next call.
The key to adopting this mindset is getting new insights from every call. To do this, you need to properly document every call and note what triggered an unwanted or a desired outcome. Use this information to tweak your scripts, templates, pitch, and even your research process to get better at it every day.
Don’t bite the “email me your information” hook. It’s a common objection prospects use to get off the phone without seeming rude. Odds are, your follow-up email will be lost on them.
Instead, try to keep the conversation going by asking if they would like to set up an appointment instead and that you’ll email them with the information and a reminder of the meeting if they agree to it.
This shows you acknowledge their proposal, but you also reframe it to your advantage.
Don’t give your prospect an easy excuse to end the call right away by asking negative questions like the above.
Instead, ask them something like, “I have a quick question for you. Can you spare 2 minutes of your time?” This question is more likely to result in a positive response to keep the conversation going.
Also, to avoid calling your prospect at a bad time in the first place, make sure you do thorough research and call them at the best time. These timings include:
When a prospect gives you an objection, it’s important not just to brush it off and continue with your pitch. That will make you look rude and unprofessional.
Instead, take the time to understand their objection and see if there’s anything you can do to address it. Only then should you continue with your pitch.
Sales calls can be difficult, there’s no doubt about that! But by following these tips, you can avoid letting valuable potential customers slip through your fingers just because of an unfortunate first impression.
Remember to always document and learn from every call so that you can improve for the next one. If you avoid making the common mistakes mentioned above, odds are you’ll be that much closer to closing your next deal.
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