I recently had a flashback to when I first inherited my team. I can vividly recall spending hours digging through our CRM trying to get a sense of the existing sales process and analyzing historical data to understand where our opportunities lay. Being a young, starry-eyed manager, my visions of the future were bright…until the phone rang.
What followed was a sales call that made nails on chalkboard sound like Mozart. In other words, it wasn’t very good. I decided to meet with each team member one-on-one in order to find out how the existing phone prospecting process was set up. To my surprise, every salesperson had a different “process.” In my experience, “different processes” translates to… “no process.”
In sales, the only thing better than meeting with a prospect face-to-face is having a live phone conversation (I know it’s 2014, but texting doesn’t count). As a manager, what are you doing to make sure your sales team has a rock-solid phone prospecting process in place to handle these golden opportunities?
1. Be Prepared
If a member of your sales team has that deer-in-the-headlights look when they are supposed to be “smiling and dialing,” it’s likely because they do not feel prepared. Being prepared to have a phone conversation is as simple as having a script. Your script needs to convey the reason and benefit for doing business with your organization while asking questions that guide the prospect through your sales process.
2. Build Your Script
There are a few key ingredients to building a great phone prospecting script. Let’s take a look:
Greeting: Every call should begin with “Hi
If you are ever confronted with “No, this a bad time,” make sure to respond with something along the lines of “Well, what I have to say is important but certainly not urgent, when is a better time for us to connect?” Make sure you set up the next appointment before you get off the phone.
Pattern Interrupt: As soon as you’re done saying your name and where you are calling from, jump right to an engaging question. This is a technique called pattern interrupt – asking an unexpected question that causes your prospect to sit up and pay attention. Chances are, whoever you’re calling probably wasn’t anxiously awaiting your call like a 16 year-old after a first date. You need to make them stop and think.
For example, you can take a direct approach by saying, “Your information came across my desk and from what I understand you may be struggling with (choose a pain point that your product). Is that right?” Including your prospect’s pain in the question is a powerful technique that can be used in a follow-up or prospecting call.
Ask Questions: Here is the tricky part. While selling face-to-face, it is always best to ask open-ended questions to get your prospect talking. Over the phone, it’s often the opposite. Questions that require a “this” or “that” answer will help guide your prospect to an ideal end goal — which is always a next step.
For example: “When were you more available for us to meet, today or tomorrow?” instead of “When is a good time for us to meet?”
Gain a Commitment for the Next Step: Rarely will you be able to actually sell something or gain a financial commitment over the phone.Your end game should always be a next step toward purchase. Make sure to spell your name and get your prospect to put your contact information in writing. Reiterate important details like meeting location, time and what will happen following this call.
The best way to stage this is by asking, “Do you have a pen handy? I have some important information to share with you.”
3. Inspect and Monitor Your Phone Prospecting Process
There is a great saying called, “Inspect what you expect.” In other words, make sure you are monitoring your results and revising as you go.
- Check your CRM after your team makes calls to ensure the information matches.
- Listen to and monitor calls whenever you can to make sure your scripts are being fully utilized.
- Run reports to see which types of calls are most effective (i.e. follow up calls, cold call lists, etc.)
Hopefully, this overview has you thinking about putting together a stronger phone prospecting process for outreach and follow-up. In my next blog, I will talk about a few different scripts you should develop and how to integrate them with the best selling practices in your Sales PlayBook.