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

E-mail replies are showing up in your in-box. 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 I know work for me.

The 7 phone habits that follow are ones I find most helpful in getting back on track for improving initial meeting conversion rates:

Habit #1: Set A Call 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 voice-mail (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 (Predictable Prospecting – page 53 – Influencer Map)

Habit #2: 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.

Habit #3: 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.

Habit #4: Create Winning Openers

My clients continue to practice the foundational practice 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 in 2017.

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

Habit #5: Craft an Interest Grabbing Statement

Use words like maximize, increase, grow, minimize, reduce, decrease, eliminate, acquire, prevent… in a sentence that reaches in a 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.

Habit #6: Know What Questions to Ask

Group your questions into these 4 categories:

  1. Pain Questions:

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

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

  2. Implication Questions

    (this is from the SPIN selling model): Of Professsor 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

Habit #7: 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 a proactive mode. Phone work for securing meetings is a proactive process as well.

Planning and practicing are key elements for success. As is setting block time to make call after call because you do get better the longer you’re on the phones. Working up to 2-hours of un-interrupted, single-focused, block time 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 utimately, more sales.

About the author

Marylou Tyler

Marylou Tyler

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

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