Written By: Mike Brooks
If you sell for a living, sooner or later you have to pick up the phone for prospecting, follow up, and sales calls. To be effective, you need to sound natural and confident. This helps you both engage prospects and avoid getting shut down by gatekeepers.
I don’t know about you but I can always tell when a nervous sales rep is cold calling me.
From the moment they begin speaking (“Hi is this Mr. Brooks?”), to the way they fumble through their scripts, I have them pegged before they get past their first sentence.
And like I’m sure it is with you, too, I am immediately not interested.
The way to pique your prospect’s interest is to sound like you’re not selling anything, and you do that by learning how to disarm prospects, sound natural yet professional, and be friendly without being phony.
Use these 5 techniques to sound natural on the phone and close more business.
I know that there are two schools of thought on this, one being that you should show respect for someone you don’t know and use either Mr. or Mrs., but I don’t agree.
I think you can show respect for someone by being courteous and professional. And I think you’re going to make a lot more progress if you use a person’s first name.
First, by using a person’s first name you aren’t immediately signaling that you’re a salesperson! I mean how do you feel when someone you don’t know calls you and addresses you by “Mr.” or “Mrs.”?
Second, everyone likes the sound of their own name. In fact, psychologists have found that everyone’s favorite word is their first name! By starting with that you are immediately making a personal connection with your stakeholder.
You’d be surprised by how many sales reps still try to trick or get around gatekeepers and assistants, and how many are rude in doing so. Always, always use please and thank you when speaking with anyone over the phone (or in-person for that matter).
Words like “please” and “thank you” go a long way when trying to make a connection with a prospect, and they work especially well when you’re trying to get through to a prospect. Examine your current scripts and do all you can to insert the proper courtesies wherever you can.
Most reps go into pitch mode the moment they reach their prospect. So it’s no surprise they can’t wait to get them off the phone. I review scripts all the time that essentially read the company’s brochure to the prospect the moment they reach them.
You can turn that around and sound so much better by briefly delivering your presentation and checking in with your prospect.
For example: “Briefly, (prospect), the reason I’m calling is that we’ve been working with many companies like yours, and I just wanted to see if we can help you as well. Can I ask you just a couple of questions to see if we’d be a fit for you as well?”
Or try: “(Prospect), you probably get a lot of calls like these, so I’ll be brief. I’ll just ask you a couple of quick questions and if I think we can save you between 15 to 20% I’ll let you know and, if not, we’ll part friends, is that OK?”
This is one of the easiest techniques of all and it’s a great way to get your prospect talking. All you do is find something that you know is affecting your other clients (like new laws in their industry), and ask how it’s affecting them.
You might consider trying: “You know (prospect) a lot of my clients have told me of the changes they’re having to make because of (the new law), how is that affecting you?”
Or something like: “(Prospect) what are you planning to feature at the September trade show?”
By addressing something that they are dealing with now, you can instantly make a connection and get valuable information.
A quick disclaimer: you have to fit this in after you’ve established rapport, and you have to address something that is relevant to them.
This may not sound like a way to sound more natural on the phone, but believe me, it’s probably the most important of all.
Most sales reps are so busy talking that their prospect has turned off long ago. They are just waiting for an appropriate pause to get rid of them.
By listening, you actually create space for your prospect to speak (and to think), and because of that, you are allowing the conversation to flow. When the prospect has a chance to get their thoughts and feedback out, they feel comfortable with you.
And that is the best way for the conversation to unfold naturally. Hit your mute button after you ask a question and count to three.
These five techniques are easy to implement, and, once you do, you’ll make more connections and close more business.
It’s important to sound natural on the phone, but it’s even more critical during video sales calls. Check out our Video Sales Call Checklist and learn how to be prepared for every virtual sales call.
Mike Brooks is the founder of Mr. Inside Sales, a North Carolina based inside…
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