Having operated in the sales training arena for a long time, I’ve fielded the same frantic queries from business owners time and time again. Here are two of the most common: “Our salespeople simply aren’t closing enough deals, help please?” and “Our salespeople don’t see enough qualified decision makers, what should we do?”
The answer to the first question is simple: It’s not poor closing that is the problem, rather it is poor qualifying. That’s it. If you’re struggling with question two, the solution is not quite as easy. Many salespeople shy away from making cold calls due to fear of failure and/or rejection. This hesitation is referred to as sales call reluctance and can extend beyond the cold call to subsequent meetings with prospects. It is detrimental to the sales process because, if the salesperson is not making enough calls,
there will be fewer appointments, fewer closes and ultimately lower sales and profits for the salesperson and the company.
There are many reasons for call reluctance but we reckon these are the main ones:
This occurs when the salesperson attempts to schedule appointments or close deals with all the contacts on a prospect list and is repeatedly turned down. Each time the salesperson fails the next contact becomes harder to complete due to the increasing fear of failure.
Do your homework on your prospect so you know what link you are going to use and always check you are talking to a decision-maker. For example, ask: “Apart from yourself, who else may be involved in making a final decision?”
Fear of rejection
The second reason for call reluctance is fear of rejection. When a salesperson calls to schedule appointments from the contact
list, he usually asks a series of questions from a rehearsed script. Often the prospect will become defensive, negative, or will
cease communicating with the salesperson because no natural conversation is happening. Remember people buy from people that they
like and trust. Chuck away your script and be natural.
Remember if the prospect says no, they are saying no to your products/ services not you.
Fear of self-promotion
Some salespeople are afraid of being thought of as pushy and intrusive. Symptoms of this are frequent apologies to prospects
during phone calls for interrupting them, procrastination and poor phrasing like “possibly, maybe, is it ok,” etc.
You as a salesperson are an expert in your field. So stop any negative self-talk. Be positive and talk at the same level
as the prospect. This called the peer-to-peer approach.
The self-talk cycle
If we can interrupt and replace our internal dialogue of negative thought patterns, we can programme ourselves to release the extra mental negatives we carry.
Mohammed Ali the former World Welterweight boxer was brilliant at positive self-talk. He’d put up a picture of his opponent on his bathroom mirror and whilst shaving he’d hurl insults at the man, degrade him, tell him exactly when he was going to take him out etc. What you think is how you’ll behave so start a positive self-talk dialogue.
GETTING IT RIGHT
Many telesales agents are often caught in the same trap when making sales calls, they tend to sound alike and you can tell a sales call right from the beginning. The question therefore is: how do you get past an introduction and get the prospect to allow you to pitch in order to sell?
Have a primary objective for every sales call. Ask: What do I want them to do as a result of this call, and what do I want to
achieve? Prepare questions for your telesales call using your call objective. Ask yourself: How can I persuade them to take this action as a result of asking questions, as opposed to talking? Remember, people believe more in their ideas than yours. What will you say to the Gate Keeper? If this is a high-end sales call, this person determines whether or not you’ll even have a chance to speak with the decision maker.
As a tip, gather as much information as you can from whomever you can, prior to speaking with your prospect. Busy decision makers get bored when they have to answer your basic qualifying questions. Use the “help technique”: I hope you can help me, so I’m better prepared when I speak with MR. KDM, there’s probably some information you could provide me, like…
Before cold calls, think of a good reason for needing to speak with the decision maker. What did your research reveal? Finding a link plays a pivotal role in the success of any sales call. What is a link? It is anything that you can discover that will show the prospect you have done serious research into them.
Find a link by reviewing their websites, annual reports, goals and objectives, success stories, hot news, people on the move and their blog. It could also be customers you both have in common, or hot news about what their competitors are doing or a success story from within their company. After your research, look for the alignment (link) between your company and the prospect’s company. How will you convey this message; as a question or statement? On delivery will the prospect’s ears prick up? Now develop a concise and compelling message that will grab the prospect’s attention.
Another question is whether or not you should follow a script. The answer, in my view, is yes and no. Yes, because it provides structure and gives you confidence. No, because it makes you sound like a parrot. You should have a framework onto which you can tag your research, build in a link and progress your value proposition. The result? You can spend less time focusing on the structure and more time engaging customers in meaningful, valuable conversations.
You know you are on the right track when the prospect is doing the majority – 70% – of the talking and you about 30%. You are
in a questioning mode and your prospect is in a talkative mode only as a result of your intelligent and natural open probes. Once you have managed to reach this point in your sale you have managed to capture the prospect’s interest and they want to know more.
The next port of call in the sales process then becomes creating needs, which we refer to as getting the prospect to feel the pain. But more about that next time.
Clive Price is MD of The Peer Group, a company that specialises in sales training and frontline excellence. He has a BA (Econ) from Wits and a Post Grad Degree in Learning Psychology from London University. Visit: www.mypeergroup.com.