Paul addresses concerns about effectively using the phone as a selling tool.
Put together talking points and practice. Partner with your sales manager and role play.
Can you solve a problem the customer is experiencing? If so, lead with that!
“Make the customer feel that your message was crafted specifically for them.”
Does your message create value for the person on the other end of the conversation?
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How can I be more comfortable, confident, and effective on the phone?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, I have a great question. This question actually came from a live conference I was at just the other day. I was on a panel. We were talking about sales trends, and a one sales leader asked a great question. He said, “Paul, what advice do you have for sellers that are reluctant to use the phone?” What a great question. And we are going to tackle that today. We’re going to get right into it.
Before we do, though, a quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. It’s interesting. On this panel, one thing that came up was developing a podcast, and podcasting was the key topic actually that we focused on. And it became clear to me, a lot of companies now are using podcasts as a way to train and develop internally. Some of my larger Fortune 500 clients, they will use internal podcasts as a way to communicate—as a way to connect the leaders of the organization to every employee. And it made me think, you know, that there’s just so many ways that podcasting can help build your brand—connect you to your audience.
So if you’re thinking about starting a podcast or you have an idea, or maybe you want to put one together for your company, Andrea and her team over at The Creative Impostor Studios are going to help you make it happen. I remember first getting started with the podcast, Andrea and I had several conversations working through the details, and she was there to support the entire way. So if you’re thinking of starting a podcast—if you’re at that point—reach out to Andrea and her team. They really make it easy. We’re going to have a link over to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Not only that, if you listened to our previous episodes, you know I’ve got some exciting news. My new book, Selling Through Tough Times, is now available for pre-order on Amazon. We’re going to have a link to that actual page on Amazon on this episode’s webpage. So click there—check it out. You can, pre-order your copy today and it’s filled with some great content. I can’t wait to share more with you guys once we get it ready—once we get it in print. But it’s available now [to pre-order], so check it out. We’ll have a link over to Amazon.
So let’s get back to that question: What advice do you have for sellers that are reluctant to use the phone? And when this gentleman asked the question, he was referring to some of his new salespeople—new salespeople that he has recently hired. So we are going to get into it. It’s extremely important. The phone is one of your best selling tools. It’s an absolute must. You need to learn how to master the phone. And that also means mastering the message that you’re leaving with that customer, because, many times, you’re going to get that voicemail. And it’s funny, I was thinking about, I remember early on in my sales career, I would make so many mistakes when leaving a message. And that’s what qualifies me to run this podcast and to be a sales trainer and a sales leader, I’ve made almost every mistake you can make in sales. I’ve learned from them. So you can learn from my mistakes.
But I remember some of the challenges I would have. I would leave messages that were too long. I remember one time I was leaving a message with a customer, and I tried to cram a 10-minute sales pitch into a 30-second message. And, I remember, at one point, when I was leaving my message, I got the beep notifying me that I went over my time, and then I get the operator that says, “You’ve now reached the limit. Would you like to restart your message?” And I thought to myself, ‘Man, I need to work on my messaging.’ And so I did. And I remember trying to work on the message once again, and I remember leaving some horrible voicemails. And, in fact, some of these are so bad, I remember clicking that pound button to see if there were more options—if I could rerecord the message, if I could delete it. And of course there was. So if you’ve ever found yourself hitting the pound message, after you leave a message just to see if you can delete it, this is the podcast for you.
So let’s get back to that question: What advice do you have for sellers reluctant to use the phone? The first tip—and these are in no particular order—practice, practice, practice. Repetition builds comfort and confidence. That is key. Repetition builds comfort and confidence. So if you are getting ready to launch a phone campaign—let’s say you’re a new salesperson—you’ve got a list of 100 prospects that you’re going to be reaching out to. Put together a script and practice it. Put together a couple of talking points and practice it. And, actually, talking points are better than scripts. Don’t use a script. That word just kind of floated into my mind. Instead, use talking points. Talking points are a little more authentic, and a script doesn’t really work unless the customer’s following the same script. So use talking points instead.
Now, as you’re practicing, the key is to get comfortable. So, I would even leave myself a couple of voice messages. Hop on a Zoom call. Schedule a Zoom call and record yourself as you’re leaving a message. But just listen to the way you’re leaving that message and make sure you practice it.
Now, obviously, the hope is that you’re going to get someone on the line. So, the next tip would be to role-play with your sales manager, or role-play with one of your sales colleagues. Salespeople hate to role-play, and I get it. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not exciting. But it will help you get better. It’s one of those things that you don’t have to like to do it, you’ve just got to do it. So partner up with one of your salespeople, one of your sales managers, whoever it may be. And I would identify the top three objections you hear when you reach out to a prospect. Let’s say, in that rare occurrence that you do get someone on the other line—you’re vying for their time, you’re trying to get them to meet with you, whatever you’re trying to do—what are the three most common objections you will hear? And once you hear those objections, once you make that list, prepare responses to overcome those objections. If you hear the same objection repeatedly, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a couple of ways to navigate around it. You should have something that will help you overcome that objection. So, second tip, role-play with your sales manager.
Now, the third tip here, whether you’re leaving a message or whether you do get someone on the phone, you’ve got to grab that person’s attention right away. Within the first few seconds, they’re deciding whether it’s worthwhile to listen to you or to listen to that voicemail. So here’s one tip that will help you. We did research on decision makers, and we asked them, “Why would you be willing to meet with a salesperson?” The number-one response was, “It appears this salesperson can help solve a business problem that I’m experiencing.” There you go. That’s the tip. If you’re going to grab their attention right away, you have to mention some sort of problem that they could be experiencing. Now, if you’re a professional salesperson, you should know this information. You should know the common problems that your prospects are having. So reference that as soon as you pick up the phone. A soon as you leave that voicemail, reference that business problem.
Tip number four (and this goes hand-in-hand with the previous—mentioning a problem.) Your message must be extremely relevant to the customer or prospect that you’re reaching out to. Your prospect has to feel as though your message was handcrafted just for them. The more personalized the message, the more likely they are to meet with you. Because remember, buyers—they don’t want some canned presentation that you pitch to every single person that you talk to. I understand your core value proposition doesn’t really change, but the way you personalize your message should change, because you want that buyer to feel as though what you’re selling, what you’re offering, is created just for them. So the message has to be extremely relevant to them.
Number five, and this is more of an intangible thing. This is an exercise that I recommend for salespeople. And that is to pause for a few moments before you pick up that phone and imagine what it’s like to be the person on the other end of that phone. What is their life like? What is their stress like? What does it feel like to be them? And this is really an exercise in empathy. This will allow you to think as the customer thinks—to feel as they feel. And if you’re able to put yourself in the position of that buyer, you’re going to come up with a much more compelling message. So again, empathy is absolutely key. Take a few moments and put yourself in the position of the person you’re calling.
Tip number six, and I’ve got seven of them for you today so we’re almost through. Tip number six: one overarching principle when you were beginning a phone campaign/messaging campaign—whether it’s email, voicemail, or in-person—your message has to create some sort of value for the person that you are speaking to. It has to create some value for them. Maybe it’s delivering a piece of insight. Maybe it’s sharing a piece of knowledge that they didn’t know about before. Maybe it’s a new idea. Whatever it is, it has to create some value for the other person that you are speaking to. And this applies whether it’s your very first meeting, or whether it’s a follow-up meeting, or whether it’s a phone conversation. Whatever you are doing, you have to create some sort of value for the other person. Not for yourself. It’s not about you. They don’t care about the quota you have to hit, or the number of calls you have to make, they care about themselves. Be able to create value for that person. The more value you create, the more opportunities you’re going to capture.
And then finally, tip number seven. We talk a lot about small-wins selling and Value-Added Selling, and all that really means is you take your ultimate goal, which is to close a sale, to make the sale, whatever you use, take that ultimate goal and break it down into bite-sized chunks. When you’re reaching out to a bunch of prospects, your goal is not to sell something. That is not your goal. Your goal instead is to get a meeting. That is the small win that you need to focus on. And if you can free yourself from the pressure of saying, “Okay, I’ve got to close the sale today. I’ve got to make a deal happen.” Instead, focus on achieving those small wins. When you achieve all those small wins, it’s eventually going to generate momentum and you’re going to ultimately get to that goal of winning the business. But you’ve got to look at this stage of the sale and say, “Okay, my next best step, my next immediate outcome, is a small win. I need to focus on getting that meeting.” That will take the pressure off you. It will help you focus, and it will help you to remain motivated and engaged within this group of prospects. So just look for those small wins.
Make it big day.