Friday, October 5, 2012

Call reluctance – why are we stopped cold?

Everyone experiences it, but some more than others.  Fearing rejection is the most obvious, but it’s not the only reason we pause before we pick up the phone.  Not knowing what to say is a bigger factor in holding up the process.  I once had a CEO tell me, he always jotted down the three things he wanted to accomplish in a call, so he could stay on track.  It’s too hard to keep it in your head, and chances are you will miss one of them during the flow of a conversation.  I think that’s a simple exercise that we could all use, even in calls that we don’t normally battle and it can get us quickly over the hump on picking up that deceptively heavy handset. 

For the calls that stop us in our tracks, more preparation can make a big difference.  Most companies we work with have sales teams and one of the areas they constantly struggle with is how to do outreach consistently.  There are all kinds of incentives you can put in place – extra commission on new business – requiring a set number of calls to new prospects a week – threats of being fired.  They might get someone calling once in a while (usually the last one), but it doesn’t necessarily make the calls effective.

What is the purpose of your call?  You need to be crystal clear in this to make any call effective.  For a first introduction, consider a very simple purpose.  ‘We would like to send you information if it makes sense.’  I like this idea because it lets the person know you don’t just want to blast them with information like a phoning spammer.  Ask to send them information (almost anyone will say OK even if it’s just because they know that will get you off the phone).  Then the important final step, take just one more minute to make sure you should send information.  Ask them one thing that will confirm for you that it makes sense. 

Optimally, make it some kind of open ended question that will let you know there is a reason to keep communicating, but that doesn’t require them to open the books.  It’s just the first conversation of a long term relationship if it’s done well, so don’t press too far.  You don’t need to get all the way on the first date when are looking for a long term relationship.  If they start asking questions you can keep pursuing the conversation as they are opening the door, but our first call should really just explore the potential a little bit and not try to close the deal all at once. 

Very few things are as frustrating for me in reviewing a call history as seeing a salesperson excited from the first call when their prospect ‘asked’ for information in the first call and then in the second (or 7th) follow up call said 'actually, no I’m not interested at all'.  What a waste of effort!  And we’ve wasted the non-potential client’s time to boot.  We could have likely figured out in that very first call that it wasn’t a fit.

What if we’re interrupting the person we’re calling?  This thought you need to completely dismiss.  You are guaranteed to be interrupting something, so get over it.  This makes it all the more important to have a plan for your call to keep it on task and have something you feel is important to share and learn.   If you respect the person’s time when you call them, you will more likely get that second conversation as well. 

Many more reasons stall salespeople from picking up the phone and if you have questions about how to get past some of your teams specific challenges, give me a call.  No really, the phone is right there!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Scripts - dos and don'ts

Scripts are a necessary evil... not as something to read from but as something to build the foundation of a conversation. We like to think of a script outline rather than a script. It gives you an idea of the direction you'd like a conversation to take. But, as was well put in the article attached, it's vital that you be having a conversation, not reading.

In any conversation, the twists and turns taken are essential to follow. You can't just bull-doze your way or you'll lose any hope of being heard. If you listen and really hear and are curious about the person you are talking with, chances are, you will be able to get a deeper understanding of their needs, and when you feel you have something to present that is really a fit, or even just points to clarify, chances are much higher you will also be heard. (An important distinction - You are not just waiting for them to stop talking so you can present your idea - that isn't a conversation either!) And so, the script falls by the wayside as soon as the conversation starts. It can help you get back on track but it will only be effective if it still flows.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I don't think I can say it better than it has been done here:

From Small Fish Business Coach - Carl Dierschow - a clear sentiment on the one page versus the 30 page business plan. It all depends on what you need it for. For real change, you need to be clear and concise. _Plan_You_Will_Use/

With year end always comes reflection and a (hopefully) fresh look at the new year. I intend to take this reminder of the value of the one page business plan and put it to good use - monthly - maybe more.

Will let you know how it goes!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Call to Action

Epiphany moment... the call to action we would recommend for any marketing materials works for any communication. Who knew. Think about managing people. If you don't give them a specific action item to work on, what did any of your feedback offer them. Do they really know what you've asked them to change if you haven't made it crystal clear? Communication with clients has the same challenge. If you send an email with a wealth of information, but there isn't a clear question or request for a specific action, what do you think will happen? When you look at your marketing, certainly you want to consider what steps might occur from your communication there.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Over time, we've determined a structure for calls that has been particularly effective for prospecting. The key is to use it consistently. Our plan is to call, mail or email and then call again in a relatively short period of time. Then if there is no response you push out the call activity a few months. If there is too much time between contact, the prospect won't develop the recognition for your product/service name and message. If you contact too much you come across as irritating, definitely not the first impression you want to make. Find some balance and then follow it every time.

Friday, July 23, 2010


We've been talking a substantial amount of late about being curious about a client situation - if we understand their needs, we have a high potential to actually offer them something useful. As sales individuals, we have a goal, to introduce our products and services, but to offer value to our clients, we really need to understand them first. Otherwise, we're just an informercial screaming in their face. Make sure you know what the person you are talking with needs before you offer them anything!