The daunting task of picking up the phone and actually calling someone can be frightening to some, heck it may even be terrifying. But, why let your nerves get the best of you? Anxiety is a common problem for salespeople who are faced with sales challenges such as budgets, pricing, legal, marketing, and a slew of other things.
So how can you conquer your anxiety and become the sales superstar you were born to be?
Preparation is a key element to creating and developing essential conversations that will enhance your deal flow. The best types of conversations are organized into parts so that the listener can fully comprehend the material being presented. This gives both parties the opportunity to fully take in the material being presented.
How should you start this plan?
Make a list of the questions you need to answer.
- Are we calling somebody who runs a division and who is likely to have the authority to make a decision regarding the budget?
- Are we talking to somebody who runs or owns the company?
- Are we talking to someone whose department and division would actually utilize our services and reap the benefits?
- What do we really want from this person? Are we looking for his or her permission to call somebody who is higher up in the company?
- Are we calling because we want an appointment? If so, why do you think that he’s the right person, to begin with?
- Have you thought through all the possibilities? Let’s say we get “kicked downstairs,” which sometimes happens when we call someone and were told to speak to some assistant or someone else with less authority. Do you want to start low? Honestly, the best move would be to start as high as possible – at the highest possible position that would make sense. So we must understand the benefits we can offer. What are the words that they’re going to need to hear, given their responsibilities and our offering?
Also consider having a series of questions which lead into another; a domino effect, in your back pocket. An example of this would be “What kind of challenges do you face with your sellers?” may lead into “How often is this challenge faced?”
Soon enough you will have all the answers to the questions you need to know.
Focus on Taking Deep Breaths
Well, you should already be breathing, but in case you’re convinced otherwise this can have a major impact on your voice tonality while over the phone. Relieving your shoulder muscles and clearing your throat is vital to ensure you get off on the right note.
Smiling is also a simple, but effective, an action that reps can take to improve their sales performance when meeting prospects over the phone. Smiling or frowning affects your vocal tone. When you smile, your tone actually becomes more positive and friendly. On the other hand, if you have a negative posture, frown on your face and bad attitude, it will come across in your voice.
Hesitation or uncertainty in your voice will lead to hesitation from your prospect. This could lead to early warning signs and red flags to why your prospect may not want to further the conversation with you. Your confidence is vital towards grabbing their attention and closing sales!
Don’t Sound like a Telemarketer
When you’re explaining what you do, that’s great! But when somebody asks you to explain what you do and you’re unable to unbundle this point from your sales pitch, you’re not being helpful. Not only do you have to sell it, but you also have to explain it effectively. Know the difference between these two things. The more refined you are at explaining, the more convincing it really becomes.
There are some people that just can’t get a clear explanation out without turning it into a commercial that makes what they’re selling incomprehensible. That’s what telemarketers do. They may neither understand the questions nor follow the conversation. They’ll say to a customer, “Well, let me get back to that. But right now, what I want to tell you is” – let the customer lead and ask the questions that they need to ask.
Get a Feel for the Rhythm of the Call
What do you do when you’re on the phone with people?
Often times, when I listen to salespeople on the phone speaking with their customers, I get a sense that the salesperson is so determined to get their presentation and all their thoughts out there that they’re not giving the customer a chance to talk.
For both the seller and the customer, the sense of time passing is very different.
Sellers already know what they are going to say. In fact, conversations will go through a recycling process. Sellers are really good at the end of that conversation because they know what to ask, what to follow up with next, and how to proceed further.
However, the customer doesn’t necessarily speak with salespeople all the time. They may not be as practiced at answering the questions. What has generally been found to be true is that the higher the level the person is, the more skillful he is in selecting his words. Sometimes, this can lead to an even longer pause when you ask a question – the pause between the end of your question and the beginning of the answer. You want to allow that pause to continue. You do not want to race to fill that up. In fact, a lack of those pauses is a good indicator that your rhythm might be off.
If you’re cutting into each other’s sentences and not listening, you’re not getting the silences you need to construct that rhythm. If you’re doing all the talking, you’re not encouraging any rhythm at all. So the back-and-forth motion (imagine the hypnotic sway of a pendulum) of the conversation is dictated by you, by leading the conversation, by cutting yourself off, by interrupting yourself at times at mid-sentence to ask a question:
“Let me just ask you…”
“As I just mentioned, this word, this concept, this offering…”
“Mr. Customer, what do you think about…?”
“Did you ever think about…?”
“Did you ever try…?”
“I was just wondering…”
Insert your questions whenever possible to pull them back into the conversation.
Make Your Case and Point
Identify why you’re contacting them for this sales call. Validating this will help ease awkward introductions and follow-ups. Some questions you may want to ask yourself are: Where are they in my sales pipeline? Am I nurturing them through the sales funnel? How am I building next steps into my call? This will help remind both the prospect and yourself of why this conversation was initially started.
But what is the point you are trying to make?
The point is to get your message across, effectively.
By asking yourself the questions mentioned earlier, you can identify material, tactics, and strategies for them depending on where they are throughout the sales funnel. Your sales funnel will help identify next step solutions for a prospect.
Go in With a Plan (or Multiple Plans)
If you go and can’t reach the person, then what next? If you are able to reach the person but he can’t meet with you, what’s the alternative plan? What’s the plan if you get him on the phone, ask for an appointment and you give it your best shot, but he makes an objection?
What’s the plan when you find out that he or she is not the right person to reach out to and he doesn’t assume the type of authority you had expected? Therefore, what do you do? Knowing what to say for all of these various situations that come up predictably and quite frequently in sales will help you outperform your competitors.
Bring in the Backup
When the going gets tough, it’s time to call in backup. You may want to bring your Sales Manager in or a coworker who would be willing to help you out in a jam, in order to make delicious jelly of the situation. Having a “3rd wheel” to fall back on absolutely makes sense for both parties. A coworker on a call could provide reassurance, and further explain some parts of the product you may not fully understand. From the prospects point of view, it shows them you are really interested in their business and encourages mutual engagement towards finding a solution that best fits.
Your next sales call doesn’t have to bring you anxiety and stress. Just remember to relax, breathe, and follow these tips. You’ll be more prepared, more confident, and ready to win your call.