I know this sounds very basic but quite frankly the number of sales people I have heard fumbling about for the right words on the phone at the time of a call is quite astonishing. My tip is to revisit this diagram which I put out last year;
Research your target prospect. Use various resources available to you such as Twitter/Instagram which will give you an idea of what the prospects current focus is.
Linked In which will confirm or help you to identify who you should be speaking to as well as give you a name to tackle the gatekeeper.
Website news pages. These are great to get an insight into what the company have been doing. Their homepage will also reveal some of the latest news and even with whom they might be working. Perhaps you too have worked with someone they have. The website is excellent to help you to find a common language or even for you to adopt their language to your pitch. Remember assuming the position is a tremendous psychological way of being accepted. Companies are like relaxed cults, and they have a culture that you would need to fit into so using their language to articulate what you want to say.
From your legwork in points 1 and 2 you should have enough information to bespoke or tailor your proposition so that it sounds like it could be of value to the prospect. Granted you may not have an opportunity to use it with the gatekeeper, but again I have witnessed far too many salespeople who haven't prepared to speak to the decision maker in advance and end up with what I would call verbal diarrhoea. The strength in your proposition can make the difference between you gaining an opportunity or not. Time is of the essence so make it short and to the point. Remember the first thing that you might be thinking when you receive a cold call from a potential supplier.
Now here’s what the full diagram I created for viewers last year looks like;
First of all, have an objective. Its surprising how many salespeople haven't thought about this one before picking up the phone. When challenged with the question the majority of answers if not all that I have received would be around making a sale or getting an appointment. While these are in most cases the end game, they are not the smartest single objective at this stage. The smart objective to achieve first is;
"To qualify the prospect."
My tip to you is to make sure that you ‘make this and any other follow up calls worth your time. To know if its worth your time you need to be able to realise the potential value of this prospect. To do that you must have an understanding of what criteria you are looking for in a customer. So for example;
You will have your own list of questions to add to this that are relevant to what you sell. I often ask how many people in their sales operation so I can make a judgement on how much an opportunity could mean to me.
It's essential before you try to confirm an appointment to either call back or go travelling out to meet them that you know the value of what you are chasing.
Before you pick up the phone think about how you might come across if all you're trying to do is hit numbers. One of the most challenging things to do before making a call is making sure that you have control over your emotions and in turn control over the whole call. I have often been asked questions like “how do I control my tone on the phone?" and "How can I have a relaxed conversation like you do?" The answer is in the way you control your approach, and that comes from your ability to prepare yourself to have a good conversation mentally. If in your head all you think about is having a conversation to find out more about this customer then you are more likely to come across well, relaxed and friendly. Professionalism comes from the preparation you have done in points 1-4 above. If you haven't done the preparation, you will be trying to think on your feet. Thinking on your feet is what causes your tone to become transactional and not conversational or consultative. The most important thing for you to be doing on the phone is listening to understand the customer and what they are telling you. I can tell when someone is ill-prepared because their tone becomes rushed, defensive and in some cases unfriendly. To build rapport, you really have to ask yourself;
“Would you listen to you?”
The fears discussed in my book are born from a lack of self-awareness, not a magic formula that will tell you how to be yourself. Formulae don't know you, you know you and if you need help ask your friends why they befriend you? It is this quality of personality that needs to break the ice and continue to keep the other person on the other end of the line. As long as they are on the other end, you are increasing your chances of success on your call.