Monday, July 28, 2008

Six “Easy” Steps to Selling & Prospecting By Phone (Guest Blogger Art Sobczak)

This week, I asked my friend Art Sobczak of Business by Phone Inc.( the most important considerations when making outgoing sales calls -- to current clients and prospects.

Here's what Art had to say:

"A panicked caller asked me, 'What’s an easy and quick way to get good at making prospecting calls? I’ve got to bring in some business now!'

Well, that’s like asking a contractor, 'What’s an easy and quick way to build a house?'

There is no easy and quick way. There are some fundamental processes and principles you can follow that will help avoid mistakes, and get 'yes' answers from prospects and customers by phone.

Let’s look at them.

1. It Needs to Be All About THEM!

Get this one fact in your mind and remind yourself of it before every sales call or negotiation: Prospects do not care about you and what you want. They care about themselves. If you talk about how big or great or respected your company is, and do not tie it directly into what it might deliver to them as a result, you create resistance. They do not care that you want to meet with them or be their vendor. They are concerned about how whatever they do next will affect them.

Action Step: For everyone you call, first ask yourself what you might be able to possibly help them gain, increase, enhance, or enlarge. The more you can apply these to money, the better. And, what might you be able to help them avoid, decrease, eliminate, or cut. Further, apply these to pains, problems, fears, and to costs.

2. Learn About Them Before Calling.

Why does everyone hate telemarketing calls at home? Because they are like talking mass-mail, impersonal form letters, delivered robotically. Conversely, when someone knows about you, about what's going on in your world and communicates that, you take notice. Customized calls are like handwritten notes. They are about the listener (see point one above).

Action Step: Go to company websites, do online searches of your prospect companies and individuals, ask questions of screeners, executive assistants, or anyone in your prospects' company. Then use that information in your opening (see the next point) and throughout the call.

3. Create Interest and Curiosity in the First 15 Seconds.

The beginnings of calls elicit interest or resistance. No gray area. Most calls create resistance. That's because they are about the caller, and what he wants, (see point 1 again) and the listener feels he is being sold, so he shifts into 'getting rid of salesperson'-mode.

There are many opening statement mistakes you need to avoid. For example, even insinuating you are going to ask them to buy from you or meet with you is a huge error that creates resistance. Such as, '...and I'm calling to see what it would take to become one of your vendors.' (For a free list of telephone opening statement mistakes that create resistance, go to
Action Step: Follow this process for creating interest-grabbing call openers:

a) Introduce yourself and your company
b) hint at what relevant results you have delivered for others and might be able to provide for them
c) move them to the questioning -- for example, 'Hi, I'm Pat Seller with Advantage Industries. We specialize in working with CFOs of food distribution companies, helping them address the issue of how to control fuel costs without cutting service to their customers. I'd like to ask a few questions to see how much of a concern this is for you, and if we might have the basis for further conversation.'

4. Question at the Higher Level.
Good salespeople ask questions. Great salespeople ask the NEXT question. That's simply listening to the answer, and following up with a deeper question to get the reasons behind the first answer.

The reasons are why someone will take action, and eventually buy from you. Easy in principle, but not always followed. Probably because many sales reps are so concerned about what they'll say next that they don't listen to the answers to their own questions. For example, a sales rep asks, 'What is your biggest challenge regarding meeting your sales goals this year?' The prospect answers, 'We really need to ramp up our new customer acquisition.'
The sales rep then says, 'Well let me tell you how we can help you do that...' That rep absolutely blew an opportunity to get the prospect to see and feel his problem, which therefore puts him in a more receptive frame of mind to hear the solution later. In response to the answer, the rep could simply say, 'Oh, why is that a concern?' Now the prospect is giving better information, more about why he is motivated, and the pain is getting deeper.

Action Step: Listen to the answer, and ask the NEXT question to get better information.

5. ASK!

To get hits, a baseball player needs to swing. To score, a basketball or soccer player needs to shoot. A salesperson needs to ask. Doing everything else right will enhance your chances for a yes -- maybe even moving them to say, 'Sounds great, how can I buy from you?'

But in most cases, you still need to ask for a decision. You do not need a hundred different ways to close the sale. You DO need one or two conversational ways of simply asking for the business, an appointment, the sale, an upsell, or whatever your objective is.

Acton Step: Force yourself to practice the behavior of asking, in all areas of your life. You will get no's to be sure, just like an athlete misses shots. But do not focus on the misses; reward yourself for the simple attempts, and cherish the yes answers. They will become more frequent.

6. Be Yourself

You become a better salesperson the less you SOUND like a salesperson. The more conversational and natural you are, the more effective and likable you are. Pretend like you are talking to a good friend. Write out, practice, and digitally record your openings, questions, answers to anticipated questions, next questions, and ways of asking for the business. Then repeat the process. Being natural and conversational means being confident with where you will go next. That comes through preparation and practice.

There is no easy way to sales and prospecting success using the phone. There are proven, time-tested success principles that, when used, gives success easily."

Art Sobczak, provides how-to, conversational ideas and processes for painless, conversational sales and prospecting by phone. Get his free ebook, “29 Telesales Tips You Can Use Right Now” and his weekly e-mailed tips at

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