“Use the Force, Luke” -Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Hope

Back in 2013 I wrote a post detailing a cold call I received. Unfortunately, it is probably representative of many current sales calls. In that post, I also offered some suggestions on how that call could be improved.

Here’s a recap of the two tips I suggested for that particular cold call along with an updated third tip that is now a common staple in our sales and marketing landscape.

Own the Call

As salespeople, we need to own the process. As we say in our training programs, “no one ever sold anything to a business. We sell to people.” As far as the prospect is concerned, the conversation is between two human beings, not between them and a “brand”.

As a sales rep, your call should begin by getting attention and then to generate  interest. The prospect doesn’t need to know the inner workings of your sales and marketing process. You tell your prospects and clients enough information to move the process forward and no more. And a major component to making this happen is for you, the sales rep, to own the call and not be just a cog in the sales and marketing machine.

Be Interested in Your Prospect

This ties in well with the previous tip. If you are building a relationship with your prospect, you need to be interested in them, their challenges, and their issues.  A big part of conveying interested in your prospect is to use your prospect’s name in your conversation, but not to wear it out.

When you call and make contact, using their name once or twice is usually enough to show that you are interested in your prospect. In normal conversation, people usually use pronouns to maintain conversational consistency. So when you call, use their name enough to establish rapport. Overusing their name will only disrupt rapport and irritate your prospect. Step away from the numerous formulaic scripts and “use the Force”, young Skywalker.

Use Marketing Automation

In retrospect, Bob the sales rep should never had been given my name after a single download. In sales, there’s a technical term for a prospect at my level of interest – tire kicker!

Bob’s corporate marketing automation should have handled my information and enrolled me in a lead nurturing program. Or if he didn’t have one, his marketing team should have put my information in a CRM, like Salesforce, and then put me in a nurturing program based on previous interest, which in my case was none.

Two marketing automation programs that come to mind are Act-on and Hubspot. These are enterprise level programs that will let a one or two person marketing team run complex marketing campaigns that usually require 5 for 6 people. However, if you are a small consultancy or SOHO operator, an email service provider like Vertical Response or Aweber will provide you with an excellent start at creating email lead nurturing campaigns.

There’s a philosophical argument at play in sales and marketing circles. On one side, thought leaders are telling marketers that a sales rep needs to contact the prospect immediately.  After all, that is when interest is hot and the prospect will only lose interest with each passing moment.

On the other side, thought leaders are telling marketers that an incoming lead should not be given directly to sales reps to call. Instead, the lead should be put into a nurturing program to build interest and turn them into sales qualified prospects.  As in my case, the latter approach will cut down on the number of tire kickers that take up a sales person’s time, enabling them to spend their time on more profitable contacts.

As I said before, you don’t want to turn your sales and marketing process into a relay race where each person is simply passing the baton or moving a client along a “sales assembly line”.  Remember that if a task or process becomes so routine that it can be automated, it doesn’t need a human sales rep involved. You let the marketing automation application handle it.

If you are involved, it’s because your particular expertise and abilities as a sales rep are required. Don’t fall back on regular habitual tasks and processes. Bring your particular uniqueness to the table and close the deal.