There is nothing worse than getting a sales call from someone who hasn’t done their homework and is stumbling over themselves to quickly figure out a.) who you are and b.) how they can build a connection in 15 seconds. No one wants to be on either side of these awkward calls.
Regardless of how much talk there is about “cold calling being dead,” the telephone remains the fastest method to build a connection with a prospective client and determine if there is a possibility for a real sales conversation. The reality of calling on strangers means you’ll have 30 seconds to create intrigue when generating new business. The goal in that short window is to share why you matter in way that compels your prospect to want to learn more.
Here are three easy steps to engage your prospective clients so they will regularly open their door:
#1: Do Your Homework
Doing your homework will expose common ground which will make connecting with your prospective client easier. Those initial 15 seconds will extend to a few minutes if you can demonstrate that you are knowledgeable, have an alluring story to tell and have a genuine interest in improving their business.
Today’s information age gives us all the opportunity to become experts in any vertical we choose. Therefore it is our job as sales people to be experts in our target market. Setting up google alerts for industry keywords will keep you knowledgeable on the latest trends and news that affects your ideal prospects and their competitors. Other ways to stay informed include: signing up for industry newsletters and following thought leaders on social media. Honestly there is more information available online, than there is time to digest it all. Selecting the most concise market news sources from a couple of key perspectives will help streamline your news feed to a level you can consistently manage.
In addition to the big picture, it is essential to drill down to understand:
- your target company’s internal news
- top 2-4 buyer personas profiles
It is at this level where you will discover your buyer’s motivations to tie back to how you can help them.
It’s worthwhile to set up additional alerts for your top 20+ target companies. Depending on how big your focus lists is, you may be able to follow more. These company alerts will provide news to weave into your conversations such as product launches, hiring announcements or expansion plans.
In studying your targeted buyer, you will discover their main objectives and challenges. With this information, you can align each persona’s objectives with examples of how your company has resolved similar situations for prior clients with proof points. These proof points can be made up of case studies, testimonials or other data demonstrating your company’s value. In studying each persona you will gain an understanding of their triggers and be able to position how your solution can benefit them specifically.
For example, a Head of Ecommerce focuses on driving digital sales thru an online-store. Whereas a CMO has a larger scope, driving overall awareness and sales for a brand where online conversions are only one component of their total responsibility. Given the shared objectives between both buyers, the positioning will be similar, (i.e. expanding international reach with 1 billion new potential customers.) The proof points will vary according to each persona’s specific objectives (i.e. online conversions rates for a Head of Ecommerce vs. new customer conversions for a CMO.)
#2: Create Intrigue
Creating intrigue is easier than it may seem. Intrigue is defined as: to arouse the curiosity or interest of by unusual, new, or otherwise fascinating or compelling qualities; appeal strongly to; captivate. How do you captivate prospects? By communicating how you help companies, leaving out enough details to peak curiosity and including an impressive proof point.
Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) will differentiate why are your company is uniquely qualified to provide its service right now. Most companies have a rough idea of what sets them apart from their competition. However it is usually it’s based from own perspective or on their technology’s features. In order to resonate with potential clients, the USP needs to be from the client’s perspective- reflecting the benefits of your technology’s features.
The simplest way to gain insight into your client’s perspective is to create a chart listing all of your technology’s features in one column, and the benefits of each of those features in a column to the right. There will be one benefit that resonates above the rest- and it’s your Unique Selling Proposition. You can verify that this USP answers a primary objective across all buyer personas.
Once you have landed on an engaging USP, the next step is to add credibility using proof points. Some proof point examples include:
- Listing 3-4 prior Fortune 100 clients– “Some of our clients include: Amazon, Google and Microsoft.”
- Specific results your service/product produced last year– “We generated $2B in revenue for our partners last year.”
- Average ROI delivered over time– “We triple revenue for our clients in 90 days.”
- Results from clinical studies– “We’ve participated in more clinical studies this year than any of our competitors.”
Select proof points that show exactly what will be gained by opening the door. It makes sense to experiment with as many data points as possible in phone conversations and email to see which points consistently inspire curiosity in your prospective clients.
#3: Dance in the Conversation
After you prepared and practiced how the conversation “should” go, there will often be an unexpected curve. Some significant circumstance that you couldn’t have researched, that will require an impromptu tweak of your story to keep the door open. This is where “dancing in the conversation” will keep your prospect engaged. Think of an “old school partner dance” which requires being fully present, listening and observing your partner’s subtle movements, ready to follow their lead.
More seasoned sales people have generally developed their active listening skills to be able to navigate any unexpected curves in new business conversations. However most prospectors have little prior work experience. A common pitfall for inexperienced reps can be an over dependence on scripts. This over reliance on scripts means an inability to deviate from how the conversation “should” go. New prospectors can often miss subtle clues where they could have dug a bit deeper to uncover key details that can shape new relationships. It’s in these moments that having authentic curiosity about your prospect’s business will make following a lead less intimidating.
Dancing in the conversation takes practice. The best way to help your prospectors develop their dance skills is weekly role play sessions. Ask senior teams members to role play as a persona from the reps’ target account list. Make role plays as realistic as possible by having prospectors weave their homework into their practice sessions. The more you can challenge your prospectors with realistic scenarios, the more natural and confident they can be in live calls. The key is building your reps confidence so they can remain present and curious while they dance in conversations into new unscripted territory.
Prospecting for new business is arguably the toughest part of creating an effective sales process. Creating predictability in this process is a must-have if your company is going to scale. There are multiple variables to develop in order to consistently engage targeted prospects. As long as you continue doing your homework, creating intrigue and dancing in the conversation, you will be able to regularly engage prospects, turning their “no’s” into a “yes.”