DM Training Blog
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Whether you’re new to sales, or an experienced pro, developing the right approach to making sales calls is a strategic advantage. As a salesperson, oftentimes the first impression you make is over the phone. Whether that’s talking to a new prospect, building a client relationship, or maintaining contact with long term clients. Developing an effective calling approach and phone persona is essential to your sales success. But how can you develop an approach that will consistently drive results? Consider these 3 strategies as you develop, refine, and optimize your calling approach:
3. How are you going to open up the meeting? Now, there’s no one right way to open every meeting. But you should think about it. You need to make a decision. But I’ll tell you what works for me. In the friendliest way possible, early on in every proposal meeting, I say something along the lines of, “You know, thank you Mr. Prospect or Ms. Prospect for meeting with me today. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to put together a deal. And if we do, do you think my services would be implemented right away?” That question will give you an answer to something that you’re eager to know, and it will be extremely helpful. You might be hesitant in asking this question or asking it in this manner. No worries! Translate it into a way that you can ask it. Or if that’s not the right question for you, find the right question for yourself. But keep asking yourself, “Is this always the best way to go?” and adjust the opening with each meeting. Customize the solution for your prospect. 4. Defend why your proposal is right. Many times, I listen to salespeople on the phone, and I can hear them explain the pricing. But they don’t say what I really want them to say from the prospect’s perspective, which is a very reassuring message. “Hello Prospect, you know, after we spoke, I went back and looked at my notes. I talked to my staff. I went to our service team. I did a little research and a little brainstorming. And as a team, we came up with a plan that I think you’re really going to like. It really addresses the issues that you’ve pointed out and that you’ve told me about. I know these were important to you. Anyway, that’s how we created this proposal.” Now maybe that’s not exactly the way you would say it. But something along those lines would be reassuring. After all, people react and reciprocate. If you act with enthusiasm, the prospect is more likely going to be enthusiastic also. If you act like you don’t care, then why should your prospect? Let’s always remind ourselves of these four things we should do when we’re presenting a proposal over the phone: 1. We’re verifying information. Involve the customer in developing your solution. Show someone your sale in writing before the proposal meeting whenever possible. Showing an outline of the proposal in advance gives you a chance to react and adjust. 2. We’re strategizing how far in advance to send the proposal. There is no one magical time in which all proposals that are sent over are magically approved. Decide whether or not the proposal is powerful enough to speak for itself or make sure that you set aside the time to go through it with the prospect. 3. We’re deciding how we will open. Tailor a friendly opening and be prepared to ask what you need to ask to find out what you must. 4. And we’re preparing ourselves to defend why our proposal is right. Are you giving your prospect reassurance? Have you completed thorough research, and are you prepared to give evidence to your claim?
3. Veering off course. Should you make a left as part of your big plan, or do you make a left and call that ‘"veering off course?" Just because you’re making a left turn doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re veering off course. What matters is this: Think about what you want to accomplish and why you want to accomplish it. Why is it so important to you, and are you trying to achieve something positive or avoid something negative? If the energy associated with your reason or desire for wanting to accomplish this goal is strong enough, it will force you take at least 1 step forward every day. Now, whether you take that step by directly heading forward or moving towards the left just a little, - as sailors do sometimes when trying to reach a destination - consider veering if your other alternative is stopping. 4. Movement. One of the things I like to consider is how similar people are to the planets in the solar system. In the same way that planets revolve, rotate, have a gravitational pool, and are part of an orbit, some very important people have an orbit of things and people that go around them. For example, the earth has satellites that go around us; some bigger planets have many moons going around them. Both you and I are in pursuit of our goals. Often times, that goal is at least in part accomplished by meeting someone or getting that someone to buy into our concept, approve us, hire us, agree to train us, and work with us. Often in life, it’s about who we meet. Well, the people that we want to meet or get an introduction to will be moving all the time, and they each have an orbit of things around them. If you want to meet with them, you need to recognize that you’re trying to hit a moving target while you yourself are on the move. You are indeed moving even if you’re standing still because you’re growing a day older (and wiser) every day. Everything that you’re trying to do is now one day closer to being accomplished, but this also means that one more day was spent in pursuit of this goal, adding to your weariness. As you’re trying to hit a moving target consider the kinds of activities that will put you in the right orbit so that you’ll be more likely to “bump” into people that you need to bump into. How long will it take? Well, it’s going to be a long process, but it is exceedingly long if you’re not at it every single day. About the Author: Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world. DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win. DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.
(3.) Their perspective. Not only do you need to ask the right questions and do so by thinking from the perspective of the customer. How do you reach their perspective? It starts off with an understanding of their business and here are a few steps that I like to go through: First off, after all of the research you have conducted, boil it down in terms of the kind of company you’re dealing with. Do you understand how this company went to market and how big of a market share they have? Who are their competitors? Even if you can’t sell to this particular company, consider the possibility that their competitors have the potential to become your next leads. So actively seek out that kind of information, determine their go-to-market strategy and how they make money. What’s their distribution strategy? How do things operate within the company? And once you understand how things operate there, you have a sense of the kind of departments they’re likely to have, the services they’re likely to need, and learn about why they would be more willing to expend more resources in one area than another. Understanding the business of your customer is what’s going to help you ask better questions. (4.) And, finally, provide explanations Some people are so afraid to ask the obvious question, thinking that that’s what’s going to end the sale. But let’s just say that that terrible fear was realized. After asking the obvious question, your customer looks back at you with a question mark as if to say, “I can’t believe you’re asking such an obvious question.” You need to be ready for that moment just like any moment in sales. Be ready for anything that you can anticipate and say to them, “Well, the reason I’m asking is…” and then deliver an answer which sounds credible and basically translates into, “Because in the analysis of my prospects, I need to learn certain things about my customers’ business in order for me to evaluate whether or not I am qualified to deliver that service to you, and I wanted to make sure because I have an obligation to you to understand your problem and figure out early on if I can bring any value to the equation.” This is the reason to ask obvious questions. Below are helpful questions to keep in mind as you’re conducting research or trying to think from the perspective of your customer: Have you ever considered buying from us in the past? Do you work with any of our competitors? Why them? Why not us? How come we haven’t already done business together? Why did you buy the services you have now? How do you determine the budget for new services? How does your business make money? What has to happen for your company to exceed its goals? What has to happen for your department to exceed its goals? Is your department affected if sales increase or decrease? How is your department affected by changes in the marketplace? Are people in your department worried about losing their jobs? How did you obtain your current position? Are your customers, partners, and distributors global, national or local? What would we have to do to gain your business? Who does your company compete against? How does your company gain a competitive edge over your competitors? And don't be afraid to ask obvious questions. Embrace it and keep these 4 reasons behind asking at the forefront of your mind:
There are four reasons why I want you to ask the "obvious" question during an interview with a customer. The reasons are as follows: 1. Great stories. 2. The right questions. 3. Their perspective 4. Explanations. What's obvious to one person can be a source of oblivion to another. This is applicable to when a salesman meets a customer. Why? Because the salesperson works for one kind of a company, and the customer works for a completely different kind of a company in a completely different kind of a role. And so the two of them are not likely to agree on what "obvious" may be. They worry about asking an obvious question – as if there was a death penalty associated with it. I’ve spoken to 30,000 salespeople and none of them have ever told me that they were kicked out of an office for asking a too obvious of a question. But what sometimes happens – and many times does in fact happen – is that the obvious question triggers a story. So it’s not the question; it’s the story answer it produces. That’s the key concept. So what question is going to get you onto the very subject about how important solving their issues are and how you can help? How are you going to get into that conversation if you’re not talking about that subject? How are you going to get there if you’re not talking about some “obvious” question? Ask the right questions. You need to think about the world from the point-of-view of the person you’re meeting with. Imagine being in that kind of a company which makes money in a certain way and has organized itself with a certain go-to-market strategy. It is constructed in a unique way and has a certain kind of market share and they do things in a particular way. What questions can you ask will really get to the heart of the matter? Really get into the customer’s shoes, so to speak, and imagine the world from where they are and the only way to do that is to research. But once the thorough research is completed, you’re now able to ask the most important question. It’s as if you’ll be the "mirror" organization and this client was meeting his counterpart (you) and the two of you now completely understand each other. How can you solve your client's challenges? What is that one problem that is the trickiest of them all? This is the kind of question that you want to be asking: How is the client solving those "obvious" issues?