At One of a Kind Sales, we spend a LOT of time training our people to ACTIVELY LISTEN. Picking up the phone and dialing MAY get you to the right person but actively listening is the real secret to setting qualified appointments and sales success!
Can you hear me?
A basic Cold Calling requirement is being able to HEAR the prospect. That means setting yourself up so there is no background noise or music to distract you and having a headset with adequate volume controls. Close all your extraneous browser windows and shut off your personal phone so you are not tempted to check email, texts or social media.
It’s not just hearing them…
ACTIVE listening involves more than just HEARING what your prospect is saying. It means UNDERSTANDING what is being said, and oftentimes, being able to hear and understand the UNSPOKEN context. Actively listening will enable you to ‘hear’ the prospect’s body language through the tone, volume and words they are using. It means noticing shifts in that tone or changes in the volume and then modulating your own tone and words in response.
Active listening involves paying attention to what is said and using the prospect’s responses to formulate your own statements.
Active listening tactics
We recommend a number of tactics to do this:
- Paraphrasing – which is where you restate some of the prospects replies but in your own words.
- Summarizing – where you provide a summary of the process or discussion to give an overview and context.
- Clarification – where you restate and/or explain things to make sure you are all on the same page. ASK for clarification on a point or statement to keep the prospect talking about their issues.
- Reflection – where you reflect the prospect’s words back to them to help them understand what you are hearing.
Note that ALL of the above require you to have HEARD not just the prospect’s words but the intentions behind those words. Pay attention, listen carefully and you will be rewarded with valuable insights and you will, more importantly, earn their trust! They can tell when you are listening and will appreciate that you have HEARD them.
Because we know that ACTIVE LISTENING is such an important skill, we have collected many useful resources on this topic. Here are a few articles and videos we think can help YOU improve YOUR active listening skills:
You are making cold calls. You have picked up the phone and have reached a decision maker – NOW WHAT? What do you say to set an appointment?
Here are four important things you need to say and do on a call with a prospect in order to actually set an appointment that will convert to a sale:
- Build trust
- Build credibility
- Clarify and re-state their needs
- ASK for their business
Let’s be honest, salespeople can get a bad rap. Past experiences with Snakeoil salesmen and people with less than virtuous intentions can make prospects reluctant to take calls from people they don’t know. Your first task, on any call, is to put them at ease and get them to TRUST you.
Using positive words like “Good”, “Great”, “Wow” and “YES!” helps set the tone of the call and encourages them to trust you. But you MUST be GENUINE when using these or you will come off as insincere and salesy.
Conversely, negative words can lead to mistrust. Always use the affirmative, stay upbeat and frame statements positively. Use “What would relieve some of the pressure you are under?” vs “What pressures are you under?”
Salesy talk and high pressure selling tactics usually turn people off. You are there to HELP – make sure they know it!
Include ‘Credibility Statements’ in your messaging. Establish your expertise and abilities in this area.
What to say to get an appointment? Use phrases like:
“Yes, we can definitely help you with that.”
“Yes, we have helped others with this type of issue.”
“Yes, we have years of experience with this.”
Keep in mind that it is better to UNDER sell and OVER perform than to disappoint so be sure to set REALISTIC expectations. Over promising will set you up for failure.
Saying “Yes, we are experts in such and such.” when you are not, MAY lead to an appointment but it may NOT lead to a sale.
And needless to say, don’t use the words, ‘such and such’ – insert THEIR problem there! Which takes us to the next step…
Clarify and re-state their needs
Make sure you have been LISTENING so you understand their issue and their needs!
Make sure you are ASKING GOOD QUESTIONS so you get the info you need to clarify their needs, their pain points and their timelines.
Re-stating their issue and needs lets them know you are LISTENING to them – that you hear them and understand. Studies show conversion rates rise 80% when you restate needs!
What to say to set an appointment? Incorporate phrases such as:
“Please tell me more”
“What I hear you saying is…”
“You said XYZ, right?”
Don’t worry about getting it wrong. As long as you are listening, are basically on the right track and you are in a conversation – not giving a soliloquy – they will most likely correct you and give you the opportunity to rectify your statement. Take that chance and use that opportunity to build a relationship with the prospect!
And, most importantly,
Ask for the Appointment!
The next step is to ASK for the appointment! Ask the prospect to commit to the next step in the process. Only 13% of callers actually do this. Yes, it is scary – if they say no, the call could be over – but ASKING is the only way to move forward to get an appointment. Take the chance and make the ask!
And if they say no, remember, a ‘no’ is a ‘no for now’. Put them in your hold file for a set period of time and move on. New prospects await and this one may be ready next time to you reach out to them!
Are you frustrated by the quantity of appointments set by your Sales Team? Are they delivering poor quality leads that aren’t converting to sales? Are your Reps lacking the skills and management needed to effectively set qualified appointments?
You need Call Center in a Box, our proprietary Prospecting Sales Training and Management program that will provide your team with the skills and management they need to Drive real RESULTS!
Call Center in a Box is a Prospecting Sales Management and Training Program where we train, manage and monitor YOUR Sales Team to improve YOUR bottom line!
Too often, we see sales teams made up of people who may have a ‘knack’ for sales but no real training. They end up ‘winging it’ when it comes to prospecting, resulting in poor quality leads.
And even the strongest and most senior salespeople need to continuously train to stay at the top of their game. Harold Craxton, a professor at the Royal Academy of Music said, ‘Amateurs practice until they can get it right; professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong’. We agree and train YOUR salespeople to be PROFESSIONALS!
Our sales training covers the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of what your inside sales team needs to do to prospect effectively, including role play and modeling the correct way to make cold calls to set qualified appointments that lead to closed sales.
We provide your team with the tools, support and training needed to hit production goals. Our scripting ensures that messaging is consistent and that sales reps will have meaningful conversations with decision makers to set qualified appointments.
We set you up so your team will work in a CRM that is user friendly, simplifies the prospecting process and provides the tools they need to engage, qualify and set the appointment all in one place. This speeds up the sales cycle, enabling them to contact more leads in less time.
The CRM enables your sales staff and managers to track and record calls and monitor productivity, resulting in more accountability and higher quality leads.
Frequently, we see companies that have installed powerful CRM tools but have no clue how to use all the bells and whistles that enhance productivity. We show your people how to use features like voicemail drop, including the scripting for the messages, to make the most of their call time.
The CRM allows management to access real time data, seeing what calls are made and when, enables them to listen in on actual calls and track the performance of their team.
We then meet weekly with your salespeople to review their progress, discuss their calls, coach, role play to teach appropriate and more effective responses and help them with any issues that arise.
This combination of training, monitoring, reviewing and repeating the process has been proven to drive improved sales and increases employee retention!
Our Sales Training program is industry agnostic, working for any team that uses cold calling and appointment setting as a strategy for driving new business.
Click here to learn more or Call us today at 908.879.2911 to set up a time to discuss how this sales training program can help YOU get the best results from YOUR Inside Sales Team or Producers!
Don’t have an inside sales team or producers? Click here to learn more about how we can do your cold calling for you!
Business owners often want to see quick results and instant ROI. That is like putting up the walls of a building without first building a sturdy foundation. Yes, you can throw up some walls but they will be flimsy and won’t stand up to the weather or the test of time!
The same is true in business. You need a strong foundation to build your business upon.
At One of a Kind Sales, we build you a STURDY sales foundation with daily, consistent outreach to your target audience. We work to develop long term relationships with the decision makers who will convert to real, CLOSED sales.
Building a strong foundation is the hard part – the part that takes time and patience, but the part that is most crucial to building a thriving business. And we can do this for you!
If your sales results are feeling a bit flimsy – or you know that your foundation is anything less than rock solid – give us a call. We can build you the sales foundation YOU need to build your business upon!
When hiring sales team members, keep in mind that good Sales Reps need a good six to nine months of ramp-up time before they hit their stride and start delivering real sales. If you aren’t cognizant of this and cut bait before they have a chance to deliver, you are undermining your company’s sales efforts and wasting the time of potentially valuable sales people.
Too often, I hear from impatient C-suite execs who are expecting closed sales on day two from their new hires. Having extensive experience with training both our own sales team and the teams of others, we know what realistic guidelines look like and what you should expect from your sales people and when.
This is NOT to say that they shouldn’t be delivering! It is just to remind you that closed sales take time and legwork. For the first few months, you need to evaluate your salespeople on the activities they control and be sure they are doing that legwork.
Here are some guidelines for what to expect from your new sales reps and when:
A brand new Sales Rep should be out pounding the pavement from day one. They should be networking, both in person and virtually, making connections and finding leads.
And they should, of course, be COLD CALLING! Making calls, EVERY DAY, gathering information and setting appointments with qualified leads is expected from day one and is something that can and should be tracked. (See our post on KPI’s for more on what you should track for sales success.)
Learning about the Company
The new producer should also be making time to learn about the company, the products and/or services as well as the company culture. They need to be able to identify the target audience so they can have the RIGHT conversations with the RIGHT prospects.
They also need to understand your company’s differentiators so they can address those prospects’ concerns, reservations and pain points.
All Sales Reps should then be setting appointments with QUALIFIED leads. Depending on your industry and sales structure, they may pass this along to a closer or they should be skilled enough to close the deal themselves.
Different Industries have different timelines
In some verticals, like the insurance industry, it can take up to 2 – 3 YEARS to validate a book of business. In this case, you, as an employer, may not realize your ROI for 2 – 3 years. This can be difficult but being shortsighted or having unrealistic expectations, will only undermine your sales efforts.
Time to closing can also be impacted by the SIZE of the target company. Larger companies have more layers of management and often more conservative purchasing approaches, so this usually means that it takes longer line up all the RIGHT people and departments to close sales.
Understanding YOUR target audiences’ timeline and sequence, and addressing those factors in your strategy, can make for less frustration and smoother progress.
List Quality is KEY
No matter what industry you are in, lead generation should be happening in the first months. But cold calling results are HIGHLY dependent upon the QUALITY of your call lists. Keep this in mind if your Sales reps do not seem to be ‘producing’ quality leads.
Employers need to set realistic expectations for deliverables and good sales reps need to be diligent and consistent in their approach and delivery. Good sales results come from repetition and reinforcement.
If your sales team is not producing the results YOU need, give us a call at 908.879.2911 – we can get them up to speed and show them how to produce REAL results.
People think of cold calling as picking up the phone and continually dialing prospects until you have success. But cold calling is not a random process and you will have much greater success if you set up your process and prepare the right documents before you get started. Successful sales professionals don’t wing it. Cold calling is all about planning and execution. Here’s what you need to do before you start Cold Calling:
Research – Compile a list of decision makers and whenever possible obtain their phone numbers and emails. Collect information about the prospect that allows you to engage them in a meaningful conversation.
CRM – Leverage the power of a CRM to set benchmarks, quantify KPI’s, and track your results. This is the best way to collect information about the prospect, to monitor who you have called, where you are in the process and quantify the outcome.
Telephone Scripts – To ensure that you sound professional and your calls are productive, prepare scripts for your initial call, and follow-up calls as well.
Voice Message Scripts – Often you won’t be able to reach your prospects directly by phone. So it will be necessary to leave a brief but meaningful voice mail messages. Have them prepared before you start dialing.
FAQ’s – You want to be prepared when the prospect asks questions. Anticipate and prepare responses to potential objections. Spend some time to document what questions they might ask and what your responses should be.
Training – It’s important that each salesperson is well versed in all the steps and potential outcomes of the process. Role playing is a good way to accomplish this.
Practice – Practice is the only way for you to know your pitch cold and to sound natural on your calls. Your goal is to have a conversation with the prospect, not sell them.
Think of your process as your secret weapon, helping you manage your efforts and more easily achieve your objectives. Need help establishing an effective process for yourself and your sales team? Give us a call at 908.879.2911 or email Leads@OneofaKindSales.com, we can help!