Notes From Some Call Coaching Sessions
From time to time, my clients ask me to sit with sales reps and review calls with them. Since I’ve had several such sessions already this year, I thought it would be helpful to summarize the notes the teams took and share them here. I’ve edited them to maintain confidentiality.
Whether they are called Business Development Managers, Inside Sales Reps or Account Development Consultants, they all have one thing in common: They are using the telephone with the goal of successfully crossing an early stage of a sales cycle. Remember, early in a sales cycle, a seller is either prospecting to build credibility or interest, or processing inbound interest from a buyer. Either way, it’s vital that managers help their teams prepare for and troubleshoot these conversations. Opportunities can be won or unwittingly lost here.
Now, to set the stage: The client has purchased telephony and software that stores both sides of a telephone conversation. With a gentle tone, I work the “coach’s clicker” – the mouse – starting and stopping the recording to ask questions and comment on what we are hearing.
1. For outbound calls, prepare with research and practice. At a minimum try to understand the following prior to making a call:
a. What does the company do?
b. What is the role of the contact you’re speaking to?
c. How can you make them more successful?
d. What are their highly likely objectives/goals/priorities?
2. On the call –
a. DON’T SOUND SCRIPTED! Be conversationally comfortable. If what you are going to say is not something you could stand to hear coming out of your mouth when talking to friends and loved ones then don’t say it. Find a way that’s comfortable to you and practice. Imagine you are on an airplane or at an airport lounge and a fellow traveler asks, “What do you do? What does your company do?” Use the same voice on a prospecting call as you would in answering in that imagined conversation.
b. Ask open-ended questions that you can get specific on with gentle probing questions such as:
i. “How are you doing it today and how’s it going for you?”
ii. “How do you track progress?”
These questions should be diagnostic in nature meaning what is the situation the prospect is experiencing, rather than prescriptive where the seller is telling or recommending a course of action.
c. Let the client speak, pausing to acknowledge the customer and letting them interact with you.
d. Also, be willing to adapt to what you are learning on the call. For example, if the customer is already familiar with you or your company, then you don’t need to state as many facts as you would with unfamiliar customers. So, be alert to what the customer is saying.
e. **BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER!! We can’t see facial expressions because we are not with them. So, be very careful to listen for grunts, sighs, or other auditory, but non-verbal noises coming from the prospect.
f. If the customer gives you a name to contact, ask for permission to reference them when you try to contact the new name.
g. Offer them something that could trigger a meaningful follow up. Invitations to webinars or live events are best if the prospect is not seemingly interested in starting a buying process.
h. If all else fails, ask if you can begin (or continue) to send information on how we are helping others like them. How can they turn that down?
Two closing thoughts:
**If the customer feels that you’re scripted, they will zone out**
**If the customer feels that you’re being natural and personable, the doors for conversing will open**