You did all your homework in LinkedIn, Twitter, the standard ‘sales talk’ is complete and you’re armed with loads of good reasons for getting in touch. For some, you’ll be excited and champing at the bit to pick up that phone, for some you’ll have had to work through the fear, but either way, you’ve done it and they answer. Breathe. You have 30 seconds to grab their attention. What are you going to say? Enter the script.
I fall into the ‘champing at the bit’ category above. The phone is my little sales friend and I’ve always been an open advocate of it as the most valuable tool in the sales box. I know what I sell, I love what I sell, I know why I’m calling any given prospect and what I want to say to them. I still have a call script. Here’s why:
There are certain steps that you need to cover for the prospect’s sake.
- Open the sales conversation - Ascertain it’s them - so basic it sounds ridiculous but necessary!
- Give a time expectation for the call - they’re busy and you’ve called out of the blue, show respect for their time by letting them know how much of it you want (see Stuart’s blog for tips here)
- Establish the goal of this call - is it to book a further call? A demo? Sell them something right now? (That last one is a debatable goal but it depends on your model/product)
Now we get to the elevator pitch. You need to tell them why you think this call will be worth the time stated. That’s the biggest part of my script, it’s the bit that rarely differs - it’s a benefit statement about how we help our clients and can potentially help the prospect. Think of it like this - you find yourself in an elevator with Richard Branson and Elon Musk and they ask what your company does; can you sum it up in 15 seconds or less? Practice this over and over - then write it down. Here’s mine for Recruitment sales leaders:
Crucially, this should end in a question.
Now shut up. No, really, stop talking. If you leave a space in a phone call, it’s really hard not to fill it. It’s painful but wait - because they will fill it if you don’t.
The rest of your script could consist of probing questions to keep the conversation going, but largely from this point on you’ll need to go with the flow, because what happens next depends on the prospect.
Have those questions to hand, it will be the best way to keep control of the conversation and headed in the right direction. Keep an eye on the time - you set a limit, acknowledging that can be a way to lead into arranging a further call, or to gain buy-in to continue beyond that initial limit - either way, it shows respect for their time.
If there are common objections you know you’ll get, have answers to those ready. Roleplay them with colleagues (or use Refract’s Scenario Challenge Platform, she said with a shameless plug!) so the responses become familiar. Writing down a few keywords on each will likely become enough to prompt you if needed.
Now wrap up. If you’ve been successful, book in your next step now. If that’s a further conversation offer a couple of options to encourage them to open their calendar (try to avoid leaving this to an email!) G.I.B.I. - GET IT BOOKED IN! Cover the reasons they agreed to that and put those reasons in the calendar invite too if you can. Remind them why they were excited because while they are top of your mind, you will not be top of theirs.
If not successful, establish why not. Don’t be rude or aggressive about this - if it’s going to be a waste of everyone’s time to call back in 6 months, respect your own time and be willing to move on! But if that’s just a timing thing, agree to call them back after that time and ask what will change in the meantime that will make a difference to the outcome then. Chances are they will receive that next outreach warmly.
Now, bow out gracefully.
End of script.
If you listen and ask good questions, people will talk to you. If they don’t, try an email, leave messages, talk to whoever answers the phone in the office, be persistent - but more on that in my next blog...