7 Habits That Will Improve Your Initial Meeting Conversion Rates

Planning and practicing are key elements for success…If you plan, practice and execute these habits for improving initial meeting conversation rates proactively, you will generate more sales qualified opportunities and ultimately, more sales.

The Initial Meeting Is The Most Difficult To Secure

E-mail replies are showing up in your inbox. They’re in your targeted accounts.

Or, you mapped into your target account, found the right person, and are working on scheduling your initial meeting.

Or you have your hands on a highly scored lead from marketing and you are trying to follow up.

Are you stalled? Stuck? Blocked? Not advancing the sale?

You are not alone.

One of the hardest steps in the top-of-funnel sales process is securing that first meeting.

Luckily, math is on your side.

More Meetings = More Opportunities = More Sales

Even with 33 years of practice generating first meetings, I still get stuck. When my conversion rates dip, I review, study, rehearse, and sharpen phone habits that I know work for me.

The seven phone habits that follow are ones I find most helpful in getting back on track for improving initial meeting conversion rates.

Set An Objective for Every Call

I use a pre-call planning worksheet and check off primary & secondary call objectives.

Primary call objectives include:

  • Building rapport
  • Gathering information
  • Understanding needs
  • Determining fit
  • Qualifying

Secondary call objectives include:

  • Calling back (do not leave message)
  • Leaving a voicemail (similar to leaving behind a brochure on somebody’s desk)
  • Re-dialing the gatekeeper or receptionist for information gathering
  • Calling in and around the bullseye

Be Mindful of Your Tone

Unlike face-to-face meetings where body language grabs a large portion of success, the tone of your voice accounts for a whopping 75% of your success on the phone.

5 ways you can change your tonality include:

  • Smiling when you talk
  • Emphasizing certain words
  • Speaking clearly, crisply, cleanly
  • Changing your talking speed (usually 160-170 words per minute) being mindful of your prospect’s talking speed
  • Standing up (there is more power in your voice if you stand). Try reading a simple paragraph leaning on your elbow with your hand on your cheek. Now read that same paragraph standing up & smiling. Sound different? It should.

Use Positive Language

Below is a snapshot of negative phrases modified to positive phrases. For example, shifting the word “change” to “improve, increase, modify, amend, or alter” is proven to consistently work better for calls.

Make your own list substituting negative language to positive language. And when you document what happened on your call (call wrap-up), review how the call flowed using a more positive talk track.

Create Winning Openers

My clients continue to practice the foundational tactic from Predictable Revenue’s framework— starting conversations via the internal referral. Here are some examples of explicit and implied internal referral openers:

Explicit Referral: “Good morning, Jackie. John suggested I give you a call. One of our studies on conversion rate optimization got his attention and he thought you might feel the same way.”

Implied Referral: “Good morning Isabel. I noticed in your Annual Report John Stewart [the CEO] stated increasing your B2B sales pipeline is one of the top initiatives for ABC company this year.”

Implied Referral: “I’m calling you especially because I know you’re interested in…”

Craft an Interest Grabbing Statement

Use words like maximize, increase, grow, minimize, reduce, decrease, eliminate, acquire, prevent, etc. in a sentence that reaches in and grabs the prospect by the ear (so-to-speak). Here’s a sentence structure to use for your interest-grabbing statement:

Format: I +[show | give | enable] + [prospect persona role] + [major benefit to the prospect]

Example: I show Directors of Sales Strategy how to leverage people, process & technology to triple their sales qualified opportunities in as little as 6 weeks.

Know What Questions to Ask

Group your questions into these 4 categories:

Pain Questions

Questions that reveal a potential problem, difficulty, or dissatisfaction they are experiencing— one that your product or service can solve.

Example: What are you trying to do, specifically, to alleviate this problem?

Implication Questions

(This is from the SPIN selling model): Of Professor Rackham’s four question types (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need), Implication questions are the toughest to master, but THE most effective in getting meetings!

They are the most powerful of all sales questions because they help the buyer see that his problem is serious enough to justify the hassle of spending time with you and taking that first meeting.

Example: What effect do these problems have on your competitive position? How will this problem affect your people’s productivity?

Direct Questions

Use these when you want to know something specific before you can continue your conversation. You’ll get a short answer, but it shouldn’t be a YES or a NO answer.

Example: What were you hoping I could do for you?

Tie-Down Questions

This is a listening technique where you repeat back to the prospect paraphrasing what you heard, then getting agreement.

Example: You have missed your quota for 3 consecutive quarters, is that correct?

Love Love Love Objections

Make an objection grid that has these three columns:

  • The objection (send me info, not interested, already have a supplier, already solved the problem, who are you, why is yours better, etc…)
  • What to say in response to that objection
  • The next logical question to ask the prospect— hopefully it’s an Implication Question to really unsettle them

Chet Holmes used to say that building a sales machine means you are primarily in proactive mode. Phone work for securing meetings is a proactive process as well.

Planning and practicing are key elements for telephone prospecting success. As is setting time blocks to make call after call, because you do get better the longer you’re on the phones. Working up to 2-hours of uninterrupted, single-focused, time blocks is a must if you want to succeed at generating more meetings.

If you plan, practice, and execute these habits proactively you will generate more meetings, more sales qualified opportunities, and ultimately, more sales.

In the most comprehensive book ever written about sales prospecting, Jeb Blount reveals the real secret to improving sales productivity and growing your income fast. Download our FREE Fanatical Prospecting book club guide and find tips, techniques, and tactics that will help you take your prospecting campaigns to the next level.

About the author

Marylou Tyler

Marylou Tyler is the Founder of Strategic Pipeline, a Fortune 1000 sales process improvement…

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