Making calls is a huge part of a salesperson’s life, so you better get good at it, and fast. If you become an expert at calling, chances are you’ll be a stellar salesperson too. Here is everything you need to know about calling.
Why Sales Calls Matter
When you rely on emails and voicemails to get in touch with prospects you may as well be that kid who used to talk to himself in the back of class. Just because you’re chattering away doesn’t mean anyone’s listening.
What it boils down to is this- you can’t avoid the dreaded phone call in sales. It’s the only thing that’s effective (well, that and using an AI-Powered CRM like Spiro to help you reach 47% more prospects!) when it comes to establishing a relationship with a prospect, and if you’re afraid of being annoying, well, you better get over it now or move the hell on.
How to Get a Prospect’s Number
Sometimes the most difficult part about making a sales call is finding the number of the person who you want to call. Instead of spending hours of time trying to figure out how to make contact, try these 10 tactics.
1. Call Their Company’s Switchboard
A quick company search will usually provide you with the main business number. Dial up that number and you will normally get a dial by name directory or a live receptionist who you can simply ask to be connected with your contact. Feeling extra gutsy? Try asking the switchboard for your prospect’s mobile number.
2. Let Me Google That
You don’t have to major in research to be able to conduct a halfway decent google search. You may be amazed at what you find just by googling your contact’s name. And chances are, you’ll also find their phone number.
3. Use a Service
There is a service for everything, so put one to use. ZoomInfo is a great way to dig up digits, and they have a great Chrome Plugin to ease your efforts.
4. Check LinkedIn
If you’re not already on LinkedIn, then you are missing out on a great way to connect and network with your peers, customers and potential prospects. Search for your prospect on LinkedIn to find out their title, or even people they are connected at their company. Try reaching out to one of their co-workers and simply ask them for your prospect’s direct line.
5. Make Up an Excuse
Saying “No” to a salesperson is harder on the phone than it is to deliver the message over email. So even if your prospects are answering your emails, you definitely want to try and get them on the phone to give them the hard pressured pitch. To get their number, try sending them an email which says, “Hey, I just tried to call you and must have the wrong number. What is your phone number?” Although it’s a lie, it can get a quick response and then you have primed them to expect a call from you.
6. The Out of Office Email Trick
I discovered this sneaky way to uncover phone numbers by accident. I sent an email to a prospect on a Friday evening, and their email auto responder was already set for the weekend. The response I received had their phone number in the message. I quickly jotted down their digits and come Monday morning was ready to pick up the phone to call them.
7. Ask Your Network
You have spent hours and day building your professional network. Now it’s time to use them! Look at any mutual connections you may have and then call up that person to ask for your prospect’s phone number. It’s also a great ice breaker to mention when you do finally get your prospect on the phone, “I got your number from Sally, who I know at ABC Company”. Connect the dots in your network to help build rapport.
8. Don’t Let Them Get Away
We have made the connection before between sales and dating. If you meet someone at a bar and you plan to follow-up, DO NOT let them out of that bar without getting their number. Same goes for a finding Mr./Mrs. Right in the Sales world. If you happen to meet someone and think there is any chance they could be a possible prospect, you have to ask for their phone number right then.
9. Try Alternative Ways
If you want to broaden your outreach methods from solely relying on emails, then the phone isn’t your only alternative. Try to engage with your prospects in other ways. Hit them up on Twitter or send them some good old fashioned mail.
10. Do It Yourself
Whatever you do, please do it yourself. There is no need to pay tons of money to a scammy internet site that gives you crap information. You can probably find the same info yourself, for free. Don’t waste your time and money. Use your time wisely, and then start making those calls!
Mistakes to Avoid During a Sales Call
Before we get to what you should do on a sales call, let’s start with what you shouldn’t. To avoid a major sales catastrophe, don’t do these 5 things on your call.
- Pretend Like You Know Something You Don’t
The most important trait a prospect wants to see is honesty. With this in mind, it is important to be knowledgeable, but better to admit when you do not know something. Do not be afraid to say you need to check or ask someone else to clarify a topic. We are all human and don’t know everything. After all, you’re building a relationship with your customer or prospect. However, you shouldn’t be running to someone else for every answer.
- Get Straight to Business
Imagine your client like a new friend or someone you date. You should ask questions and be curious to get to know them. If you show them you are interested in their specific circumstance, they will want to continue to give you their business. If you get straight to the sale, they will not trust your intentions. In other words, don’t be a robot!
- Cut Your Prospect Off
While you may have run through your sales process 20 times in a day, you never know what a customer is going to say. Be sure to give your full attention to listening to your customers. Truly stop and openly listen to their needs. Always be sure they are finished before you respond.
- Don’t Show Empathy To Your Prospect
One of the best ways to relate on a human level is to share your own experience. By saying “Hey you know, I understand how frustrating it can be to lose your (product you sell), as I did last week, but here are your options. This helps to build a connection with that customer, so they know you truly understand. A robot can’t relate on that level, not yet anyways.
- Multitask During A Sales Call
When you are jumping between your phone and computer while talking to a client, you are showing a lack of concern for their needs. Show them that they are important by putting technology devices away and giving them your full attention. Hey, this is the source of your income and is worth your full attention.
The Golden Rules of Sales Calls
Here are the 10 golden rules of sales calls that you should follow every time you make a call. If you do, your calls are guaranteed to run smoothly.
1. Know Who You Are Calling
If you are going to attempt to sell your product to a person, or their company, you need to make sure you are contacting the right person. Find the contact who is in the proper position to make the purchase. It is a waste of time trying to sell something that may be totally irrelevant to the person you are calling. With resources like LinkedIn, a little background research can be easily done to make sure you are reaching out to the correct person in the first place.
2. Perform Company Research
How can you possibly offer a real solution to a buyer without understanding their business? You can’t. And you are unprepared if you call without researching the company’s website, at the very least. Make contact armed with an understanding of their business, their competition, potential pain points and how you can offer a solution.
3. Don’t Blabber On and On
When you get your prospect on the phone, you want to start pitching your product, but be careful to not blabber on too much. Instead of jumping into your sales presentation, show consideration by beginning with questions. Initially, ask if they have time to talk now. If you don’t want to lose that deal, start off on the right foot and begin the call by listening, not blabbering.
4. Have a Plan
Arguable even worse than blabbering on and on, is calling a prospect without having a plan for the conversation. Don’t be shocked when someone picks up your call. Be prepared with a goal for the sales call. Your buyers are probably busy, so you need to have purpose and direction. Know your objective for the call.
5. Remember to Call When You Say You Will
Follow up when you say you will. Period. If you don’t, this tells the prospect that they are not important and also that you aren’t good for your word. If you say you will call at 10AM on Tuesday, make sure you call then. It helps the buyer feel valued and builds trust in your relationship. Make following up, and following up on time, a priority.
6. Give Direct Answers
It’s important to be honest with your prospects. If a buyer ask you how much your product costs, give them an answer. Nobody wants a response like, “We will go over that later.” If a buyer is asking, they want to know, NOW. If you know the answer to what they are asking, don’t be avoidant and beat around the bush.
7. Only Answer Questions You Can
On the flip side, if a prospect asked you a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t make something up. Tell the customer you will find out the answer and get back to them. Estimating or guessing at answers you really aren’t sure of, won’t help move the deal along. Take time to uncover the truth, and your prospect won’t mind waiting for the answer.
8. Focus on Your Product, Not the Competition
Try to avoid talking too much about your competitors. It can easily come across as competition bashing, and that does little to elevate your own product. When you talk down the competition, it leaves potential buyers feeling like you have little to offer. Instead, focus on the competitive advantage of your products, not the other company’s shortcomings.
9. Be Competent
If you don’t know your product well, or how it’s going to add value to your client’s business, don’t make a sales call until you do. You must be able to articulate your value proposition and be able to competently provide them with a solution.
10. Use Technology to Help
Not sure who to call next? Try using a CRM that can help guide you along your sales day with proactive recommendations on what prospects you need to be calling, and when. Spiro’s AI-Powered CRM has helped salespeople reach 47% more prospects per week! Use technology to help make the most of your sales calls.
Writing a Sales Script
A great sales script can mean all the difference between someone hanging up on you and moving someone down the sales pipeline. If you want to write better sales scripts, take a look at some of the tips in this post.
(And add a sales automation CRM to that awesome sales script and you’ll be unstoppable!)
Before You Write
There are a few things you want to have in order before you just sit down and start writing a draft of the script. First, you’ll need to select a featured product or service that you can pitch them. Next, you’ll need to identify your target audience. Are you calling business-to-business (B2B)? Contacting a decision-maker? Get in line with the other hundred sales reps tapping that same keg. This is why your sales scripts have to be on-point. If not, you get lost in the sea of losers whose sales scripts were garbage. Next, list the benefits. Those prospects are going to want to know what you can do for them. Finally, ask a couple of poignant questions that relate to their issues so you can address it with your solution. So you don’t get lost at sea, the following script pointers should do just fine.
Your Script Template
Your sales script is key to getting in contact with the right people, and once you’re on the phone with them, being able to sound like a pro as you go through the script. This takes practice and a good script is fluid enough to anticipate any deviation.
The script is broken into several parts:
- Value Statement
- Qualifying Questions
- Examples of Common Problems
- Company and Product Information
Each of these areas of the script play their own part as well as together as a whole. Let’s take a look at each section and break it down.
The introduction has to be striking enough to get their attention, but not overwhelming enough to drive them to hang up. The introduction must sound professional. You’re not calling up a friend to hang out, you’re calling someone whose time is valuable and may want to buy what you’re selling. A good introduction might be something like:
REP: Hello, is Mr./Ms. ____________ available? This is _____________ from Company X and we saw that you indicated you were interested in our latest products…
See? It’s simple, effective, and it shows the prospect that you are ready to do business. Pay attention to your tone and cadence of your speech, you don’t want to drive them away by being forceful nor do you want to be too soft and seem like you’re not invested in your own product. The script will make you sound more professional since it’s written and planned, and can even be rehearsed for optimal effect. Any budding actors in the sales game will appreciate a good script that can help them “get into character”.
2. Value Statement
The value statement is where you reel in the prospect. It’s juicy, it looks fantastic, and they want it (at least you hope they do). The value statement is meant to entice the prospect, not scare them off, so this is no time for sticker-shock. You’re not even mentioning prices at this point because you’re focusing on the value you’re creating for the prospect.
REP: Excellent. We really want to help you… [insert solution]
The value statements work because, again, they want to know what you can do for them. If you walk into their meeting room demanding that they buy from you just because you’re King Sales of Sales Mountain, they’ll send you packing. If you enter the room cool and confident that you can help them with their problems, and you’re able to address those issues and offer solutions, you’ll be in like Flynn.
3. Qualifying Questions
You have to make sure that the prospect is part of your target audience or else you’ll be wasting both their time and yours, and you can’t afford to do that. There are many ways to qualify prospects, and you’ll find one that works for you. No matter what strategy you use, you’ll need to learn how to ask your prospect the right questions.
REP: We want to make sure that our services will be right for you.
The qualifying questions will be thorough regarding the product or service, and will be used to pinpoint the types of solutions the prospect will need.
4. Examples of Common Problems
There have been so many different types of businesses that have existed throughout history that there no new problems, only new solutions. You’ll want to sit down with your prospect and explain all the common problems that a company such as theirs could encounter in its existence. This may introduce issues the prospect was unaware of, or worse, ignorant to. This is your wind up and pitch to set up the solutions, which you will offer up to them immediately. Some of the common problems that companies have experienced include everything from integrating new technologies within an existing system to high turnover rates on their sales reps.
REP: Many [hiring managers] say they experience… Does that concern you?
Figuring out what the problem is, because usually if one person is experiencing issues, chances are there are more struggling with the same problem. If you can offer a solution to this one customer, how many others can benefit as a result?
5. Company and Product Information
After you have successfully identified any issues and offered some broad solutions to the prospect, here’s where it gets fun. This is where you get into the nitty-gritty of what solutions you have to offer. It’s always exciting to see a prospect be wowed by your product or service, and you when you know that your sale will mean something to that customer, it makes it all worthwhile. (Well, that and the comfortable commissions.)
REP: That may work for you in that situation, but you might do better with this [product] given your situation…
The takeaway here is simply know your product or service so perfectly that you could rattle off every spec in your sleep (okay, maybe not that hardcore, but you get the point). At the very least. You need to have a solution for each and every prospect or customer because they all have different needs.
Your closing is important whether the prospect is ready to buy or not. It shows that you respect their time and are willing to work with them. For instance, your closing statement might be something like this:
REP: Thank you again for your time. Can we schedule a good time for you to see [product or service]?
This statement pushes for another (or initial) meeting, one where you can demonstrate what your product or service can actually do. Oftentimes, people are persuaded to purchase something once they see it action, so to speak. How powerful is your product or service?
The Bottom Line:
A sales script for cold calling can be a valuable tool for sales reps. The most effective sales scripts contain a few key components: introduction, value statement, qualifying questions, examples of common problems, company and product information, and close. If you use these components to design your sales scripts, and tailor them to your target audience and product, your sales scripts will stand out in the increasingly competitive sales world.
Motivating Your Team to Make More Calls
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.
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 sales 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 sales 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.
Should You Call Your Prospect’s Mobile Phone?
Times are changing, and the way we communicate is too. Many methods that used to be off limits, or nonexistent, are now becoming more common. If you want to truly be a legendary salesperson (first, get Spiro and then second, read on…) you have to be on the leading edge of these changing trends. One such trend is calling your prospects mobile phone number. Back in the day, sales calls a mobile number could be seen as intrusive.
In the age of texts, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Instagram, people are more connected than ever, and are expected to have their cell phone on them at all times. While calling after business hours when the prospect is just sitting down to dinner isn’t a bright idea, what about during normal business hours?
Don’t Be Crazy – It’s Worth a Try
If sales guys aren’t using all their resources, they are letting opportunities slip through the cracks. Here’s why you should call a prospect’s mobile phone:
- You need to make a connection!
The odds of your prospect calling you back from your voicemail is some number very close to zero. Perhaps it’s somewhat intrusive, but it’s basically 1000x more effective than emailing over and over. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, you know. Try something different and call the mobile. There is a much higher risk in never talking to your prospect at all, versus pissing them off.
- Business phone = business; what?? No way
It is not the year 2000 here. Everyone uses their mobile phone for work, too. So you’re telling me your prospect doesn’t use their cellphone for sales calls when they’re driving in their car between meetings? Of course they do.
- It’s not intrusive
Everyone has caller ID; everyone screens their calls. If you’re worried about catching someone “heading to the emergency room because his daughter is hurt” why would they answer their phone under their circumstances? C’mon!
- How do you even know what response you’ll get until you try?
Frankly, mobile phones are so common that some companies we know don’t even have desk phones for their employees. Unless you’re some super-secret hacker who illegally obtained the mobile phone number – how do you have it anyhow? Call, and if the prospect is pissed, blame it on the receptionist! Did your prospect put their mobile phone number on their business card? Call!
The real concern here is: can you quickly be charming and engaging on the phone when you get the prospect on the line? If you can, it won’t matter which line you reach them on. Legendary salespeople don’t shy away from contact – they jump in with both feet forward.
If you haven’t already, try dialing those mobile phone numbers and see what happens. Let me know if you think I’m off base in the comments, or your success stories by contacting mobile phones. And check out Don’s blog for many other topics I agree with.
Studies say it takes 7 to 11 touches before people even realize you are reaching out to them. Shocking, yet true. So keep calling and emailing until they know you mean business. And after a hang up, remember, even the best salespeople get rejected most of the time.