Many things that normally seem simple can feel complicated in the heat of battle, and we have all made silly mistakes under stress. The battle to make a sale over the phone isn’t any different. The following details of small talk, planning, and etiquette should come up in most any sales call, and you should have a deliberate ideas about them in advance. This includes when and how to broach them, what to say, and how these choices fit in with your broader strategy (possibly a strategy specific to your prospect). Remember the old maxim, the devil is in the details!
We say “Hello” all the time, so it’s easy to be sloppy. Make sure your greeting fits your strategy and prospect relative to the following two criteria.
- Your greeting should be professional, and just what this means can depend on the prospect. If you are selling yachts to wealthy retirees, it might be a formal “Hello Mr.” or “Hello Mrs.” and if you are selling skateboards to teenagers, it might be a colloquial “Hey man.” Whatever it is, make sure you’ve thought it out and how it fits into your strategy
- Make sure you pass on the right details about yourself. Who are you? Why are you calling? What is the best way for them stay in touch with you? Don’t hang up the phone and realize you failed to pass on a critical piece of information.
The Gratitude Sandwich
You want your prospect to feel good about your interaction, and one way to do this is to make them feel valued and important. The approximate beginning and end of your call are ideal times to pursue this goal.
- Start your call with an expression of gratitude. Make sure the prospect knows you are excited to be talking to them, that you value their time, and that you believe you are bringing something positive to the table.
- End your call with an expression of gratitude. Make sure you say “Thank you for your time.” Don’t forget that the prospect made a critical choice to hear you out, and don’t miss the opportunity to let them know you appreciate it.
Statement of Purpose
Make it very clear to your prospect why you are calling.
- You shouldn’t leave any doubts in the prospect’s mind about why you are calling. What are you selling? What further steps are needed to close the deal? Any piece of information that might help the prospect do what you want is a piece of information you should present carefully and be sure that the prospect understands.
Always try to take the next step towards a deal, which will often be a meeting.
- If it’s all you can do, get confirmation that the prospect is interested in a meeting and clarify any details you can such as in-person vs. teleconference.
- Once you are scheduling a specific meeting, make sure you fix the important details as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, try to suggest a specific time and an alternate. Get a fast start by saying “Are you free at time A? If not, how about time B?” instead of “When are you free?”
- Always follow up promptly!
You might find there are other details, specific to your business, worth thinking out in advance. An explicit checklist might even be appropriate for some teams. The bottom line is that you should always have a deliberate idea what details you need to get right and what “right” means for your sales strategy.
What details are important for your sales calls? Let me know on Twitter (@MuellerAC).