Often, the reason sales people can have little success on the phone is that their approach to their sales calls is simply neither engaging, structured or interesting enough to make anyone want to stop what they’re doing and listen to them instead.
For a lot of startups, developing sales formulae that works is important because if they have one, their sales operation should be easily scalable and scalability can often be a deciding factor in whether they stay small or see continued exponential growth each year with sustained sales performance
Having the right opening to a sales call is vital to your success. Every time we pick up the phone we have to remember that we’re after our prospects most valuable commodity – their time.
This, in my opinion is why we should spend good time on planning our approach and getting this right.
Disclaimer: I don’t like scripts.
However, I think there’s a lot to be said for a well-rehearsed opening to a sales call if you’re planning on engaging a prospect who’s never heard of you or your company in a conversation they weren’t expecting to have.
After all, you’ve got just a few seconds before they decide which way the conversation is going to go you we have to make sure you nail the first part of your call every time in order to give yourself the best possible chance.
Believe you me, it’s just as much how you say it as what you say. Make sure you’re delivery sounds unrehearsed, confident and natural. Practice saying it to yourself until its second nature and make sure you’re entirely comfortable with what you’re saying before you pick up the phone.
Your pitch, pace and tone are equally important to your overall sales performance on the phone.
There are no silver bullets I’m afraid. Be under no illusion because the reality of the situation is that not everyone is going to need or be interested in your offerings, so no matter how well refined your approach is or how good your selling skills are, in the world of telesales, if you’re not hearing the word ‘NO’ 50 times a day you’re probably not busy enough!
Anyway, let’s get down to it. I always like to keep things simple and based on my experience, this 3 step formula is the best way for you to develop your approach to opening a sales call.
Step 1 – The Opening – Find What Works for You
This is the simple part. This is where we introduce ourselves by name…
“Hi Pete, it’s John from XXXXX, how are you?…”
Mostly, you’ll get some people who will ask you back and some who will just acknowledge the question, at which point you need to swiftly continue. Try one of the following to keep the conversation flowing
“I know you’re busy so I’ll make this quick only …”
What I like about this approach is the word ‘only‘. It’s a great transitional word for continuing into the next part of your call. It also indicates that there is potentially some importance or value to them personally in what you’re about to say.
“I wonder if you might be able to help me?”
This is a good question to ask because the response you get to this question can reveal a lot about the personality of the person you’re speaking with. Generally, I think most people by nature will try and offer help when asked.
Step 2 – Create an Engaging Value Statement
I’m sure you shut sales callers down pretty quick but I’m also pretty sure that at some point or another you’ve probably been engaged on the phone by someone who’s done a bloody good job of getting this right without even realising.
Your statement of value should be exactly that. Maybe one or two well-engineered sentences before you finish with your question. It should be designed to give the person you’re speaking to a good reason to want to give you their time rather than put the phone down and go back to what you were doing.
This is where creativity and selling skills combine. It’s not about you, rather than what you can do for them.
Value Statements should be positioned around:
- Financial Savings or Profit Increases
- Production Increases or Time Savings
- Changes in legislation or Industry Challenges (Where appropriate)
Let’s look at a couple of examples:
“I’m a XXXX expert at XXXX specialising in XXXX and we’ve recently completed a project with XXXX where we able to save them XXXXX man hours every year through XXXXXX….”
“I’m a XXXX at XXXX I work with 50 -60 companies across the UK helping them increase profits (through/by) XXXXX….”
Step 3 – The Crucial Question
This concludes your brief intro and is where you need to keep quiet and await your response. A good opening to a cold call or sales call is vital because if you drop the ball on the first pass… NEXT.
Natural conversation is formed on good questions. Remember that! Think of some good open questions to avoid leaving yourself open to an early no.
I wondered what plans you had in place for….?
I wondered what the managements view on….?
There’s loads of other good ways to open your sales calls so push your creativity and enhance your selling skills by adapting these principals to your own products, track your results and refine your approach to the point where you feel like you’re going to ace every phone call.
I’m obsessed with split testing and always employ an approach of continuous development to everything I do. My advice is to create 2 different approaches and do a few hundred calls (minimum) with each.
Track your sales performance with each approach and see which gives you a better success rate, (cold calls to opportunities), and adopt a winner stays on system, continuing with the more effective approach and going back to the drawing board or continuing to develop another.
You’ll know when you hit the sweet spot where you’ve got an awesome pitch that you nail every time without even thinking about it and you’re having more meaningful, high value conversations with decision makers.