This is a true story: I once worked with a sales rep who got fired because when making his required number of daily outbound calls, instead of calling actual prospects he kept calling his home office over and over again. The moral of the story is that it was a pretty funny way to lose your job… the other moral of the story is that it can be really hard for managers to get sales reps to make calls.
There are a few reasons why it can be difficult to motivate salespeople to sit down and call. Some salespeople think it’s ineffective and don’t want to bother while others tend to put off prospecting until they “feel like it,” and some just see it as a tedious and difficult activity that they avoid altogether. But calling is still critical to every sales organization, and managers need their teams to make calls. Here are some tips to help:
1. Get everyone prepared before calling
There are things you can do to get people motivated before sitting down to make calls. Taking a few minutes and getting everyone pumped up, or walking around to get your blood flowing can set a more positive tone for the task ahead. Studies have even shown that standing or sitting with a ‘confident’ posture will increase a salesperson’s self-confidence and delivery. On the flip side, slouching in your chair before making calls as the cheese pizza you ate for lunch slowly puts you in a food coma is likely to hurt your effectiveness.
2. Set goals properly
Setting the proper goals for your team can make a world of difference when it comes to getting them to prospect. If you think that salespeople aren’t aware of the nuances of their pay plan, and don’t modify their activities based on them, then you’re just lying to yourself. Some companies even mandate a certain amount of prospecting per day, which can work for some salespeople, but not with others (like my former coworker who kept faking his calls).
3. Allow people to embrace rejection
The rage in silicon valley over the last few decades has been to embrace failure and quickly learn from mistakes and adjust accordingly to do things better next time. NASA also fostered this type of culture in their vaunted space program. Salespeople should also adopt this type of attitude, especially since salespeople deal with rejection more often than any other profession in the world. If management encourages salespeople to accept the fact that rejection will occur, and teaches them how to push past it, sales teams will be more likely to embrace calling. “Some will, some won’t. So what, someone else is waiting.”
4. Listen to recorded calls
After you get over how weird your own voice sounds, listening to recorded calls can be a great way to identify what you did wrong, what you did right, and how to change your approach in the future. Getting together with your team and critiquing each other’s calls can also be helpful and is usually pretty entertaining. Doing this weekly or monthly can improve call performance, and encourage salespeople to stay on the phones.
5. Make calls with the team
Leading by example will always get the best results, so sales managers who sit down and make calls alongside their team will be very effective in motivating them to do likewise. It’s surprising just how few managers get out there and prospect, usually because of the way the company structures their role. But those who do will not only earn their team’s respect, but will get results too.
6. Block time off on calendars strictly for prospecting
Setting aside specific blocks of time for prospecting can add much needed structure to salespeople’s often erratic schedules. During this time, all other activities should get put on the back burner, unless they involve a deal that’s about to close, or anything to do with a deal that’s about to close. Ideally, you’ll figure out exactly how much prospecting time is required to hit your team’s goals, and reverse engineer your time blocks that way.
7. Use technology to help
If you’re not using some sort of new technology to help your team prospect more effectively, then you’re selling yourself short. There are lots of great, cost-effective solutions out there that can help your team (and you) hit your numbers. Spiro, for instance, uses artificial intelligence to recommend which of your prospects you should call next so that you will have the highest likelihood of turning it into a closed deal. Don’t hesitate to incorporate sales automation technology into your sales routines, you’ll be less likely to have an employee fake their calls that way.