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This is a Sales Call: How to Begin Prospecting Calls with Integrity
"Hello. I'm looking for Sharon Morgen?"
This call really happened.
Years ago I lost a large piece of business because I advocated telling prospects, "This is a sales call." For some reason, the Sales Director was appalled that I would announce it was a sales call. Who would prospects think they were speaking with? Their wife? Their mother? A relative? A friend? I'm a stranger, obviously. And why would I be calling them? Would I be from their child's school, announcing a problem? Or from the neighborhood, with a report of a house on fire? How about a person from the cleaner's, telling them I'd lost their new suit?
What is wrong with telling prospects that you're placing a sales call? They'll guess it anyway when they don't recognize your voice. It will also be obvious because your opening remarks will probably sound uncomfortable - like a stranger placing a call to another stranger.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
NO NAME, NO TIME
Let's start with the name game. Dale Carnegie used to recommend that sales people repeat the prospect's name because he thought people loved hearing their own name spoken. Whether that was because the phone systems in 1937 weren't that great, or because that was a commonly accepted belief, it's no longer the case. When we really know someone, we rarely use their name. Intimacy means never have to say someone's name - there's just this eye contact people have, or a special way of saying 'Hi. It's ME."
Of course you use people's names - I'm being slightly facetious here - but not repeatedly during the same conversation, and not often, when you know someone well.
When you over-use a prospect's name, it becomes a ploy to manipulate them into liking you so you can fantasize that you're their friend, and convince this person that you want or have A RELATIONSHIP.
But it's not true. Hearing their name spoken repeatedly by a stranger makes prospects feel even more detached.
And what about the assumption that they're sitting there, waiting for this call, with nothing else to do but take the call - even if it's a bank they do business with, or a charity they donate to?
What is it about a sales call that makes it about the sales person anyway? What makes it about the product? Why is it even about a sale?
Why not make a sales call - even a prospecting call - an aspect of your brand? A way of showing your prospects that you are supporting them and your product, through a collaboration (rather than a sale)?
FEAR OF COLD CALLS
Let me back track for a moment. I've trained many thousands of sales people; I can name on one hand the number of people who have eagerly sought out cold calling (and I'm one of them. I LOVE it - what fun! What a neat way to get to know people!). Why? Because sellers don't want to impose themselves on strangers. Because you believe the prospects don't have the time or care. Because you get rejected. Because your ego says prospects should call you.
But none of that has to be true. Let's look at the pieces, and then proceed to understand how they can each be mitigated with Buying Facilitation.
Imposing on strangers When you make a call to a stranger (either prospects, or clients who have been handed over to you from a previous sales person) they don't know who you are, naturally, and you have no rapport with them. By definition you are imposing. Additionally, you are placing a call to get something for yourself and actually attempting to take something from them. Whether it's to 'make them' listen to you, or buy something from you, or do something for you. It's not like you're calling to give them a million bucks: you want them to do something, like listen to you, or buy from you, or make a change for you in some way. So you want something from this person.
But this person is a stranger. Why should this person give you anything, unless they are already predisposed to want what you have anyway? Remember that before someone does anything (different or otherwise) they must make a decision to do it. And all decisions are based on specific, unique, criteria - not information. So all the information in the world that you might have to share is immaterial if the person doesn't know how to decide what to do with it.
Time Your prospect is obviously not sitting next to the phone waiting for a call from you. S/he is doing something. Whatever it is, s/he's doing something. In order to earn the right to use some of this person's time, you've got to ask for it and announce why you should be using their time. Asking if it's a good time to speak (not the same as saying 'Do you have a few moments?' - the implication here is, 'do you have a few moments FOR ME.') will help here.
Rejection Why do you get rejected? Because you're trying to get something from this person that YOU want to get. And they say no.
What does 'no' do? It causes a Stop Action. There is no possibility of forward movement when 'no' is uttered; the person who is the naysayer holds the power in any relationship.
As long as you continue to attempt to get your needs met from a cold call, attempt to get someone to listen to what you wish to say, try to get someone to buy something - even an idea - you will continue to get rejected by all of those people who don't consciously recognize a need for what you're pushing.
When you get lucky and receive a positive response, it will be from those who already have determined a need and you then become a commodity. You better have a 'good price' for those people who will accept your call, because they won't know how else to choose you once you join the ranks of similar suppliers.
USE BUYING FACILITATION TO SUPPORT MUTUAL AGREEMENT
Using Buying Facilitation as the basis for the call won't be to take anything, sell anything, push anything, or even find out anything. Your job is to:
1. support the other person in recognizing if anything is missing in the category your product can support, and if so, how to start the process of designing a solution that will fix their problem (yes, even on a cold call, you can help the prospect begin the process of a complex sale);
2. help them discover their criteria for considering whether it's time to fill in a gap by doing something they haven't done before now.
It's not about you, not about your product, and not about what you're offering. Until or unless a buyer recognizes that what they're doing isn't working, and until they are ready to do something different to fix/change the status quo, nothing you say will be heard. Remember: people do not make decisions based on information.
Using Buying Facilitation, your job is to help people make the necessary decisions that will support the change they'd need to go through to do something different from what they're already doing.
Use your cold call to help people decide. And start the call by getting into rapport and inviting people into a collaboration with you:
Caller: "Hello. My name is Sharon Drew Morgen. This is a sales call, and I'm selling sales training. Is this a good time to speak?"
By using this opening, you are telling people who you are and why you're calling, telling people you're respectful of their time, letting them know you are an honest person, saying exactly what you're calling for, and not mangling their name (somehow the name you have in front of you is either never the right person or never the right name). And, just something I have found to be true: unless you are calling from a company with a recognized brand name, saying the name of your company is unnecessary - they won't recognize it or remember it.
If the person says it's not a good time, ask if there is a better time to call back. Don't try to throw a quick pitch in - just ask if there is a better time. If the person says they have a few minutes, say:
"I appreciate the time. And if the call goes on longer than you have time to complete, we can end whenever it's good for you and pick it up at another time."
In this way, you are giving the person permission to have control over the call. After all, they're in control anyway. By using this opening - actually, it's the first step in the Buying Facilitation Method® - you will have already dealt with the time and imposition issues, and the rejection won't be about you. And remember: make your call about helping them make discoveries and decisions. Don't use your time to push anything. Otherwise, you're wasting a great opportunity to find a new client and introduce your brand of integrity.
Sharon Drew Morgen is the author of New York Times bestseller Selling with Integrity. She is the visionary and thought leader behind a wholly original sales model based on the systems of how people change and decide. She has taught this system to 13,000 people in the fields of sales, customer service, negotiating, coaching, and change management. Sharon Drew is a keynote speaker and decision strategist, helping companies change their internal practices to embrace collaborative decision making, ethics, values, and integrity. She can be reached at 512-457-0246 and http://www.sharondrewmorgen.com and http://www.newsalesparadigm.com
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