The dreaded sales call. We’ve all experienced it, some of us on a really regular basis (PPI calls seem to be going through the roof at the moment), and truth be told, they are never enjoyable. Cold calling is dead, or at best it’s on life support.
But that doesn’t really help you if part of your job is to make calls to cold or lukewarm contacts. Most of us who sell anything at all will have to make some of these calls at some point along the way regardless. So how can we make it less painful for the customers involved and ourselves too?
Ditch the script
At Sasudi, we never advocate a script in our sales techniques. Why? Even to the most natural and confident of readers scripts sound fake and uninspiring. Timewasting even. This may have worked less than ten years ago with great results but times move fast and today’s customers are more savvy than ever before AND have less time than ever before. At worst, these calls can lead to resentment and a bad brand association.
This isn’t to say you can’t have any guide at all. I definitely recommend a loose script that you can add your magic to as you go along. Think of a list of bullet point that you’d like to cover but be open to where the conversation goes. The best thing you can get is a customer with questions, so instead of closing them down in order to get back to the script, listen intently and answer as best you can. What you are aiming for is a natural conversation that is just as much about listening as speaking.
Mind your language
We need to let the customer lead the conversation by asking questions and listening to the answers for clues on their own ‘map of the world’. For example, perhaps they want to avoid being in a certain situation again (an ‘away from’ psychology) or they want to try out something new and exciting (a ‘towards’ psychology). Listening out for these clues can be vital in adjusting our conversation to a language that they will ‘get’. Sticking to a drafted sales script will not allow for such work to happen and you may end up talking to your potential customer in a way that really turns them off.
Most importantly, a natural, engaging conversation with someone who ends up having a positive experience on the phone call with you is far more likely to be open minded to your business and brand and be left with a positive image of your company. Therefore, even if it’s not the right offering for them at this time, you will pop back into their head later down the line when it’s relevant. Or they may just recommend you to a friend who may be better suited to your offering!
Preparation? Yes. Perfection? No
Last but not least, preparation will always help when making sales calls. Create some prompts for yourself, envision the person on the phone not as the gatekeeper but someone who can open doors for you that will help to grow your business, and don’t worry if you don’t sound super slick – if you sound too rehearsed you’ll probably put the other person off! Be natural. Try giving the impression you’re an occasional caller. Ask for their help. Throw in a little hesitation in your voice. Perfection can be intimidating!