“They’re not interested in political conquest, wealth or power as you know it. They’re interested in your ship, its technology. They have identified it as something they can consume.” -Q, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Q Who
Here’s a review of a sales call I received back when I sold Dale Carnegie Training for the Cleveland franchise. Reviewing these sales calls always reveal how the Human Relations principles could have enhanced the process. In this case, becoming genuinely interested in the prospect.
On this particular morning as I was logging in, my phone rang revealing a caller with an 866 prefix. So I knew someone was calling in to try to sell me something.
But instead of letting it go to voicemail, I answered it.
Occasionally I will bypass voicemail routing to hear what other sales people are using.
The guy on the other end of the phone, Bob, started off with my name, which was ok. He got my attention and he got me to say, “Yes”.
However, the call drifted into disinterest from there.
He said his marketing team gave him my contact information because I had downloaded a white paper on video conferencing or something. And yes, he used the words ‘or something’. He was just calling to see how he could help.
He asked if I had any upcoming projects involving video conferencing or phone deployment. So, I told him that I had downloaded the white paper out of curiosity, nothing more. No fancy projects coming up, nothing exotic. I simply downloaded his white paper because I wanted to see what was out there.
He replied, “Ok. I’ll make a note of it. Hopefully no one else will call you about this” and he hung up.
Here are a couple of things I learned from this experience. Some slight modifications would have enhanced this inside sales reps effectiveness making the experience more effective for both of us:
Own The Sales Call
Bob said he called me because his marketing team had passed him my information. While I appreciated Bob’s forthrightness, he didn’t reinforce the feeling that he was genuinely interested in me or my challenges. I didn’t need to know that his marketing team had handed me off to him like a relay race baton. And I certainly didn’t need to feel unimportant simply because I hit a trigger in his sales and marketing process. By focusing on the details of how he obtained my information, Bob revealed that he was just another step in their sales and marketing process. And I was nothing more than a commodity.
As sales people, we need to own the process. When you have your prospect on the phone, they should be the focus of your conversation. Your process shouldn’t even come up. Bob’s opening should have gone more like this: “Larry, I see you downloaded a videoconferencing white paper from our site. Other CIOs who’ve downloaded that paper were faced with connecting sales teams across 4 or more states. Do you face a similar challenge?”
Take ownership of the call and remove all pieces that do nothing but lengthen your sales process.
Become Genuinely Interested in Your Prospect
When Bob started speaking, it sounded like he was speaking ‘at’ me. I didn’t keep count, but he mentioned my name and my company in his conversation multiple times. He sounded like he was reading an over-optimized web page.
In ordinary conversations, you will eventually break away from using proper names and start using the pronouns ‘you’ and ‘your’. Using proper names once or twice is necessary. You show that you care and you establish a verbal reference point when you open your sales call. However, if you use them too often, your conversation will sound like you are filling the blanks in your script.
Instead, have a straightforward conversation with your prospect on the phone. They know you are conducting a sales call. They know you aren’t about wasting their time. However, they don’t want you to treat them like a commodity on a sales assembly line. So when you call, introduce enough relevant material that lets them know you are interested in seeing them succeed.
Don’t turn your sales and marketing process into a relay race. Own the call. Become genuinely interested in your prospect. Show interest in their success, not just hitting your call numbers, and your potential clients will help you reach your finish line.