In the modern era of seemingly impersonal cold calling and robo-dialing, there is a distinctive tension that has built up around receiving sales calls. How can you increase your odds of getting through the chain of contacts that stand between you and the business owner? Removing the barriers to a quick-hang up is a great start. Here’s a few tips to help you keep the listener on the line and advance your call to the decision-maker.
Match and mirror
You may have heard the sales term “match & mirror” before. Essentially, it means matching your tone, cadence, and energy to whomever you are speaking. They talk softly, you talk softly. They talk animated and loud, you go loud. This has a psychological effect of making you more personable and helps put them at ease. It’s not a manipulative tactic, but a way to build rapport and remove barriers to engagement. Now that we have established a tone, let’s consider content.
Fast talking and short-term thinking
The faster you talk, the greater likelihood the prospect will hang up on you. What sets you apart from every other person who solicits your target customer? Fast calls are short-term thinking and cannot lead to relationship building. Developing a few scripts and practicing them in advance can alleviate the nerves and need to speak quickly and rush the call. It takes practice and testing out a variety of concepts that will engage your listener. You may only have one shot, work to get it right!
Have you heard of the term “hit and run”? This is a caller who is intent on getting the fast sale. While this may work for some B2C, it’s highly unlikely to get you anywhere for B2B contacts. Some sales people are so afraid of rejection and hurry through the call. Or, due to fierce sales quotas, mass calling is a job requirement and desperation drives all actions. Regardless, without quality contacts, there’s little opportunity for lasting impressions.
Telemarketing is another consideration for some companies and entrepreneurs who don’t like making calls or don’t wish to invest into developing a sales calling strategy. This type of service is based on mass calling too. When you relinquish control to a telemarketing firm, you trust people who don’t know you or your company well to effectively represent your interest. While I can agree that sales is a “numbers game”, quick calling to look for an immediate “yes” can work against you as you may not get another opportunity to re-engage the balance of those contacts.
We believe keeping the calls in-house is the best choice to maintain control. Then, you can help your team manage their call pace. Slow down and listen. A conversation is the a two-way street!
One thing that we focus on at Marketing EQ is being mindful of busy workdays. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time, so it is vitally important to focus on clear objectives. Spend no more than 15 seconds on your introduction and if you ask questions, limit them to three. Pause after each question to give them a chance to digest what you are saying. It’s tempting to talk fast to get all the information on the table, but a data dump could have the opposite effect and lead to an abrupt end. People begin to tune out what they perceive as a verbal barrage.
This is even more tricky when you talk to a decision maker. You’ll have only 10 seconds to get their attention, state your objective, and get a result. Your communication needs to be thoughtful, strategic and clear.
Do your homework
Following up your pitch with “Are you interested?” is the death of a sales call. Who is ever interested in being solicited? Who wants their schedule interrupted? If you are fortunate enough to get to the decision maker, your elevator pitch better be amazing! In addition, your job is to find out if you can carry the conversation forward, at a time that is more convenient FOR THEM, especially since they don’t know you, and you are asking them for their time, with no guarantee of a direct benefit or results.
Also, if you don’t have some knowledge about the business you are calling or understand the current challenges or opportunities facing that industry, your caller will discover this quickly and lose interest.
If the contact is open and engaging during your conversation, by all means, learn about their pain points or desires, which will be the main reason they are even talking with you. I advise understanding their industry challenges or common problems before you get on the phone so they know you have some knowledge of their business services.
In addition, if the conversation is going well, end on a high note. State two or three important points about the topic of conversation and ask for buy-in. Our team was making calls for an HR client and an event they were hosing. After we established the prospect is uncertain about the required HR laws, we made a statement like this that was intended as a tipping point for attendance to the event: “In short, laws are changing like minimum wage, costing companies likes your over $3,000 per employee every year. This is an important topic wouldn’t you agree?” Then, we ask if they were planning on attending the event and if they had additional questions. Be clear about the outcome and the path to get you there.
Remember, practice makes perfect AND you may only get one chance to make an impression. Take it slow and get it right.