Get out your notepad. We're going to travel through every part of the professional sales call, in order, discussing proven tips that can help you right now. Let's go!
1. Have a primary objective for every call, defined as, "What do I want them to DO as a result of this call, and what do I want to do?"
2. Prepare questions for your 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 of their ideas than yours.
Before Reaching the Decision Maker
3. Treat the screener as you would the customer. This person determines whether or not you'll even have a chance to speak with the buyer.
4. Gather as much information as you can from whomever you are able, prior to speaking with your prospect; busy decision makers get bored when they answer basic factual questions. Say to screeners, "I hope you can help me. So I'm better prepared when I speak with Ms. Big, there's probably some information you could provide me . . ."
5. Have a reason for needing to speak with the decision maker, and be prepared to sell this to the screener. What they're thinking about you: "Does this person have anything of interest, or of value for the boss?"
6. If leaving a message on voice mail, or with a screener, be certain it offers a hint of a benefit/result that sparks curiosity, but doesn't talk about products/services.
7. The objective of your opening is to pique curiosity and interest so that they will willingly and enthusiastically move to the questioning. You must answer, "What's in it forme?" for the listener, or they will immediately begin the getting-rid-of-you process.
8. When prospecting, don't start the call with, "I was just calling people in your area . . ." People want to feel like they're the only person you're calling . . . not just one of the masses from a list of compiled names.
9. Use what I call "weasel words" when opening prospecting calls: "depending on," "might," "maybe," "perhaps," and "possibly." These are non-threatening words that intimate you might have something of value for them, but you really need to ask questions first. For example, "Depending on what you're now doing in the area of employee benefits, I might have something that could potentially increase the number of options you offer, while possibly decreasing your overall contribution. I'd like to ask you a few questions to see if this is something you'd like moreinformation on."
10. Get information before you give it. How could you make an effective presentation otherwise?
11. Don't use a "benefit list" to present from. Instead, use it to create questions to determine if those "benefits" truly are of value to your prospects and customers. Some "benefits" could actually be liabilities
12. Ask one question at a time. That's how many they'll answer at a time.
13. After asking, be quiet. Resist the urge to jump in if they don't answer immediately. Don't be intimidated by silence. They're likely thinking about what they're going to say.
14. After they've finished, count to two (silently, of course). This ensures they're done, plus they might continue with even better information.
15. Be confident in your questioning. One reason reps ramble with questions is that they're not prepared or confident. Prepare your questions. Role play them with yourself if necessary.
16. Always know where you'll go with answers. Regardless of the answer.
17. Quantify the problem whenever possible.
"How often does that happen?"
"How much do you think that is costing you?"
"How much time does that take?"
18. Resist the tendency to present too soon. Some reps get so excited when they hear the slightest hint of an opportunity, that they turn on the spigot of benefits. Hold off, ask a few more questions, get better information, and you're able to craft an even harder-hitting description of benefits, tailored precisely to what they're interested in.
19. Again, you should only talk about your product/service after knowing specifically how it will solve the problem, meet their need, etc. Then you can tailor your remarks specifically and personally for the listener.
20. Avoid the question, "Anything else?" when attempting to upsell. Just like when a salesperson in a store asks the same question, the answer is usually, "No." Instead, give them a suggestion, and help them answer. For example, after they agree to buy an item, or a service, say, "Many of our customers who get _____ from us, also find that ____ is also very beneficial for them. What are you now doing/using/buying in that area?"
Getting Commitment (Closing)
21. This is not the major event in a sales call. It's the natural, logical, validation of the professional sales process up to this point. But you still must ask. Commitment must be gained on every contact in order to move the process forward. If there is to be a follow-up contact, andinformation is to be sent or faxed, there must be commitment on behalf of the prospect regarding that material.
22. Ask large. Think big. Buyers will often move down from a large recommendation, but they rarely move up from a small one. Those who ask the biggest have the largest average order size. Never suggest more than is in the best interest of the customer, but not making a large enough suggestion when appropriate is actually hurting the customer.
23. If you're going to schedule a follow up call, get a commitment of some type. Why would you call back otherwise. If they won't commit to doing anything, reviewing your literature and preparing questions, surveying their existing inventory, etc., they likely have no interest.
Addressing Resistance (Objections)
24. Objections can be avoided by doing everything else correctly up to this point in the call. When they do occur, resist the tendency to attack in defense. You must back up and revisit the questioning stage of the call. The voiced objection is simply a symptom of the real problem. Start by saying, "Let's talk about that."
25. Most price objections start in the mind of the salesperson. Many sales reps aren't 100% sold on the value of their product, therefore they're apt to offer price concessions even when the prospect doesn't flat-out ask, or they present price with a shaky tone of voice. Ask the right questions, present the results of what your product/service can do, and state the price boldly.
Wrapping Up, and Setting Up the Next Action
26. When sending information, samples, demos, etc., know precisely how they'll evaluate the material. How will they know if they like it? What criteria will they use? This way, you'll both be clear as to what would need to happen in order for them to buy.
Your Attitude and Self Motivation
27. You never have to experience rejection again. After all, what is rejection? It's not an experience, it's your definition of the experience. So, ensure that you accomplish something on each call, and you can hold your head high with a sense of achievement. Remember, a decision of any type is better than shadow-chasing someone who will waste your time with wimpy or misleading statements that cause you to believe there's a chance, when, in fact, there's not.
28. A good way to end a call where you don't accomplish your primary objective (and to never experience rejection) is to plant a seed for the future. Give them something to look for, based upon what you uncovered during the call . . . something that might just cause them to call you back. For example, "Pat, it looks like we don't have a fit here, today, but I suggest that if you ever find yourself needing an emergency job finished, and don't have the staff to handle it, give us a call. We specialize in those type of projects, and would love to talk to you."Everyone has been surprised by those written-off prospects who later called to order. This is a way to proactively make it happen more often.
29. As a sales professional using the phone as your main method of communication, you perform a function that very few people in the world could do well, or would even want to try. And that's persuading someone to take action and make a decision, based almost solely on the words and ideas that come from your mouth. It's quite an awesome feat when you think about it. And do think about it. It takes a talented individual to be able to do that well. You are that person. Feel proud of what you do, and always strive to get better!