Part one – How to open a sales call
Most sales people are great at building relationships with their prospective customers once they are in front of them, face-to-face. A good sales person will thrive in that environment; knowing how to show their authentic personality and connect with people; on top of thoroughly knowing what they are selling and the benefits it provides their customers.
However, there are lead generating and lead nurturing phases that a customer must will pass through before that face-to-face meeting occurs. Typically, a customer’s journey begins with a cold call, that is, two people who have never seen or met each other are now on the phone to discuss business. Any sales person will tell you that this is the part of their job they find the hardest.
Unfortunately, without knowing the skills on how to effectively open a sales call, a sales person may never get the opportunity to have that face-to-face meeting.
How can a sales person be good in person and not on the phone?
The reason could simply be that they are much better in person. They know what to do; how to read body language and also use their to build rapport. To a stranger on the phone, this can be difficult to navigate.
In fact, many sales people can be quite confused as to what to do when they are making that initial sales call to a potential client. And with many decision makers busy and hesitant to engage with a stranger about business, keeping their attention for those first few minutes can be crucial.
So what do you do?
Do you get straight into business straight away?
Do you get to know them first?
Do you introduce who you are and be upfront?
Do you ask them specific questions?
Having some techniques up your sleeve can help. While you are a sales person, you do not want to come across as ‘salesy’. At the end of the day, your business could really help theirs – and that is the message you want to portray.
Here are our suggestions on what to do at the beginning of a call to keep your prospective customer on the line:
Begin With A Professional And Confident Greeting
When the person you’ve been chasing finally gets on the phone, the last thing you want to say is “Oh hi, am I talking to John Smith? There is no need to confirm who you have on the phone. If there has been some sort of mix up, the person on the other end will let you know.
The reality is, you are calling someone of importance in the company. You are seeking to talk with them directly because you know they are the company’s decision maker.
You are confident that your company’s offering can help theirs. So your greeting must convey this, and the good news is, it’s very easy to do.
Example greeting: “Good afternoon, Ms Smith.”
It is that simple. No questions. Leave the ‘hello’ to your friends. Speak in a confident tone that is ready to have a professional conversation.
Follow Your Greeting With A Sincere Thank You
Typically, decision makers are very busy and while most of them understand the nature of business, a lot of them will still have a screening wall up to determine how much of their limited time they will give to you. And most of them want to give as little of it as possible.
To help ease the initial resistance a decision maker has at the beginning of the call, the best way to begin is to express gratitude for their time. It opens the conversation with a tone of understanding and that you are aware of their position and circumstances. It also makes your come across as polite and courteous rather than salesy.
Example sentence: “Thanks John for taking my call, I appreciate you taking a few moments.”
In this example, we followed the formal greeting with the person’s first name so as to make it somewhat personal and to start to build rapport. The thank you was brief and to the point.
A common mistake here is to ask them for a few moments of their time. This is not necessary because if you have them on the phone, they have already agreed to at least hear you out.
All you need to do is thank them.
Introduce Yourself And Your Company
It’s tempting to jump the gun and immediately start asking them questions or listing benefits. This tactic may work on some people but at the end of the day, being transparent from the beginning paves the way to building a good business relationship.
Example introduction: “My name is Mark Smith from XYZ company. We are specialists in ABC that have helped businesses like yours achieve DEF.”
Keep it broad and do not get too specific too soon. If you want to add anything to this example, you could include the names of a couple of companies you have helped.
Once you have greeted them, thanked them, and introduced yourself and your company, you can now begin to engage in an intelligent conversation about their business needs.
Innately, people have a fear of rejection which can make opening a sales call seem more difficult than it is. Arming yourself with these three techniques is a great way of setting the tone and encouraging the person you are calling to continue the conversation.
In Part Two, We Will Discuss How To Continue To Build Rapport Over The Phone