“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”
~ Jim Rohn
Preparation is Key!
Some people close some sales quickly and easily some of the time.
A few people close almost every sale all the time.
The difference is mostly in their level of preparation for their sales calls and their skill in communicating effectively with others. You might be surprised to know that many of the most effective sales people are not normally extroverts, they’re introverts who understand that if you close nearly 100% of your sales calls you don’t need to make very many of them to be highly successful.
There are three primary areas in which every sale is won or lost:
- Your Mind; (see Part 3 for more details)
- Your Preparation and Presentation;
- Your Prospect’s Need.
Qualify Your Audience
I believe that the most important part of any sale is determining whether your prospect actually needs what you have to sell… or if they don’t. I call this process ‘qualifying the client’.
An effective qualifying process means that you are not trying to sell people things they don’t
need and that has two positive outcomes:
- You don’t feel sleazy;
- Prospects trust your recommendations.
- I’ve been known to convince prospects not to buy things when it was in my immediate interest to make the sale. As a result, they’ve often come back to me when circumstances changed to find out if now would be a good time to work with me.
- I can guarantee that that doesn’t happen when you push people to buy things they don’t really need, or that aren’t fit for purpose to meet your own sales and income quotas.
Know Your Audience
Before you talk to someone, it is a good idea to do a little bit of research and learn about the company or maybe even the type of person that you are contacting. This will help you find the “hot buttons” that will motivate them to take the next step in your sales process once you have qualified them (whatever that step may be).
For example, if you are talking to a CFO, your best opening is to point out difference between the financials of the prospect’s firm and other firms in the same industry. These things will differ based on your product, your industry and what your outcome for the call is. Knowing these things will be the stuff that sets you apart from your competition.
Know Your Message Thoroughly
It should go without saying, that you need to have a thorough knowledge of your product, its ideal applications, and its benefits… but that isn’t always the case. I’ve worked with sales teams where their response to technical questions is either ‘I don’t know I’ll have to ask a technician’ or else they read aloud from a slide or brochure with no real understanding.
Don’t let that be you!
If you know your audience thoroughly, you will have a better idea of how to structure your message as well as of the information they will be interested in hearing. One of the sales teams I have trained was selling complex IT solutions. The sales people certainly didn’t have the technical expertise to do the work, but they thoroughly understood the problems their system solved and they could express the essential points in laymen’s terms.
I recommend mapping out a script that covers the basic conversation, potential objections, and the “close” on whatever action would fulfil the goal of your call.
Practice Until Confident
Once you have your script map ready, you should go through the process until you are thoroughly familiar with the flow of your calls. This is where internal sales teams have a massive advantage because you can role play extensively and every actual call (whether it is a success or a failure) provides you with more information.
Rehearsal and repetition will help you master the script and the rhythm of the call and turn it into a natural dialogue form which your statements and questions flow naturally. This will give you the confidence that comes from competence and that confidence will project onto your prospect whether you are meeting face-to-face, over the phone, or via Zoom.
Put Time in Your Calendar
Making sales calls demands a focused mindset and positive energy as well as appropriate preparation. Successful sales people tend to block off a period of time to make these calls so they can create momentum. That means that you also need to have a list of names/companies to contact and then set a goal for the total number to contact in a given time period.
If your company provides this list for you, that makes it easy. However, if you are also responsible for finding people or companies to call, my suggestion is that you separate the research and compilation of the list from the actual calling. That way, when the time comes to make calls you can use the momentum to further develop your confidence and rhythm.
After the Call
Treat every call as an opportunity to learn and experiment and don’t sweat the rejections. Not every prospects you call will turn into new business opportunities. In fact, a cold call that eliminates a prospect is almost better than a cold call that puts a ‘maybe’ prospect into your pipeline.
Make notes after each call whether you set an appointment or not. After a while, you will get a feel for the prospects who are saying encouraging things and even agreeing to take the next step, but who are unlikely to move forward. In addition, be sure to celebrate your wins. If cold calling is a struggle for you, then every time you pick up the phone you score a victory over yourself. If your prospect moved to the next step or you closed a sale, it’s relatively easy to celebrate, yet surprisingly few people do so… Even if you received a “no” or a “maybe” you still did the work and that’s yet another reason to reinforce your achievement.