“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 representative of many current sales calls. In that post, I also offered some suggestions on how to improve that particular call.

Here’s a recap of the two communication 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.

Use Your Communication Skills To Show That You 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.

Become Genuinely Interested in Your Prospect

This ties in well with the previous tip. Become interested in your prospect, their challenges, and their issues if you want to build a relationship with them.  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 communicate with your prospect, use their name once or twice to show you are interested. 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, marketing should not have given Bob the sales rep my name after I downloaded a single whitepaper. 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 people 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’s when interest is hot and the prospect will only lose interest with each passing moment.

On the other side, thought leaders tell marketers not to give fresh leads directly to sales reps to call. Instead, put the lead into a nurturing program to build interest and turn them into sales qualified prospects.  This 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.

Leverage Automation For The Simple Task; Focus on Sales Communication

As I said before, you don’t want to turn your sales and marketing process into a bucket brigade where each person is simply passing the baton or moving a client along a “sales assembly line”.  Remember, routine tasks and processes that you can automate don’t need human sales reps involved. You let the marketing automation handle it.

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