The telephone is still a powerful tool that can be used effectively in the sales process. Sales and Marketing organizations can leverage technology to generate traffic to their website, capture leads, qualify leads and even nurture long-term opportunities. But in most cases, you still must eventually have some human interaction to build customer relationships and close business. That human touch typically starts with a telephone conversation and it’s not unusual for an entire sales process be completed over the phone.
Using a telephone conversation to accelerate the movement of an opportunity through the sales funnel is both art and science. Unfortunately, salespeople have traditionally relied too heavily on the art of conversation. Many people mistakenly believe that their “gift of gab” and “bubbly personality” is enough to carry the day. Too often, this attitude leads to sales people who are just “winging it” and “shooting from the hip.”
Everyone should keep in mind that whenever you “shoot from the hip” it’s likely that eventually you’ll “shout yourself in the foot.” Accomplished sales professionals rely on science as well. This means they develop a plan for every sales call. The lack of a plan may lead to misstatements and missed opportunities. Every plan should also include a call guide and a call script. A guide is an outline of the topics you want to cover and questions you want to ask during the call. A script is more specific. It details the specific words that will be used for various situations. Scripting a sales call can be particularly effective for your opening statement and your responses to common objections or questions. The script will ensure you maintain a professional demeanor and communicate your desired message as efficiently and clearly as possible.
Below are the keys to creating a call script that not only doesn’t suck, but actually helps you accomplish your objective.
1. Clearly define the objective of the call.
“If you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there.” What are you trying to accomplish on the call? Do you want to schedule a face-to-face meeting? Do you need to capture business intelligence to qualify the opportunity? Are you inviting the prospect to attend an event? There are many valid reasons for placing a sales related call to a prospect. Know what your reason is. It’s your destination and it will help you map out your plan to get there.
2. Keep it short and concise.
Everyone is busy and moving fast. Don’t waste your prospect’s time. Be pleasant and polite, but don’t get bogged down in casual chatter. Get to the point of why you’re calling and clearly communicate that reason to your prospect.
3. Customize your messaging to the target buyer persona.
Your call script should have at least some variations for each buyer persona that’s being targeted. Each of your buyer personas have different needs, pain points, goals and objections. Be prepared to address their unique situation with positioning statements and responses that will resonate with them.
4. Communicate a valid business reason.
You may have your objective of the call clearly defined, but your objective is probably not the same as your prospect’s. While your objective may be to schedule a face-to-face meeting, their objective may be to get off the phone with you as quickly as possible. Give them a reason to not only stay on the phone, but also take the next step with you. A good valid business reason is something that will impact their business in a positive way. Helping a business grow or effectively deal with a pain point are general reasons. Try to be as specific as possible. Name the problem their experiencing that you can help solve or give a real-life example of the impact you’ve had on a similar company.
5. Educate your prospect by sharing insights.
To provide your prospect with a valid business reason for the call as well as for taking the next step in the sales process you should make sure you’ve researched your target and understand their situation. That research should also include insights that demonstrate your thought leadership and subject matter expertise. Your prospects want to be educated. They want to learn something new. Sharing your research combined with your unique point-of-view will position you as a valuable resource and not just another sales person.
6. Clearly communicate and finalize the next step.
At the end of the call, there should be no ambiguity about what will happen next. Clearly communicate the “next best step” in the process and why it’s important that they take that step with you. If you are going to send them a follow up email, then tell them what you’ll be sending. If you are going to have a face-to-face meeting, then make sure the day and time is finalized and on everyone’s calendar.
Making sales calls has always been a bit of a numbers game. Technology like voice mail and caller ID makes it easier for prospects to avoid your calls and makes the numbers even more challenging. Today you must make more calls to talk to fewer people. So, make those calls count. Don’t waste the opportunity. When your prospect picks up the phone make sure you’re ready. Having a plan, a call guide and a call script will improve your odds of success.