Are questions the answer?

We've been spending time on Gong.io's fascinating study of objection handling in sales calls. To learn more about this study, you can go to their blog -

We talked before about the power of slowing down. This can be especially true when dealing with objections on the phone. How you define an objection is subjective, but we feel that any time a prospect starts to ask you multiple questions, you should treat them in this manner.

Prospects asking questions is a great thing, as it demonstrates they are attempting to listen to your presentation and care enough to interrupt the conversation to seek clarification. What we have to be mindful of is losing control of the call. When you get multiple questions, either in one breath or one after the other, you must be careful not to spiral out of control of the conversation.

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As you can see, their research shows that Top Performers are better at gaining control of the conversation by asking questions in return.

For example, if someone comes back at you with "the price is too high" an average performer would immediately try and justify their price.  Top performers will hone in on this response from the prospect and start asking questions to better understand what is really meant.

The questions don't have to be fantastic or even totally related to the objection. What is needed is to get control back on your side and keep the conversation going.

Your price may be way too high, but until you have context how can you know what is truly being said?

Something as simple as, "Is price your most important consideration?" can get you back in control and lead the prospect to start justifying their position giving you more time to think and more information to use to your benefit.

We'll cover the types of questions to ask in further blog posts.

Until then, use the data to pause, slow down and then ask a question. Make sense?

Who remembers a cold call?

The blogosphere is full of commentary that Cold Calling is dead. You don't have to search far to find someone, usually someone selling a course, that will be pushing this angle.

A quick Google search shows 73,300,000+ Results. 

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Normally, their variation on the theme is a coordinated social media strategy that allows prospects to find you and contact you when they are interested. Supposedly the nirvana for salespeople everywhere.

Then there is email marketing. Spurred on by the zero cost of delivery, salespeople have been on a decade long quest to get your email address and "get you in their sales funnel". 

With no real cost associated, they blast out messages (jab, jab, right hook?) and wait for responses to flood their inbox with interest.

Reality is that all three approaches have their merit.

My question to salespeople (and buyers) is really pretty straightforward. Who was the last person that cold called you, good or bad?

How much specific detail can you remember about the caller, even the really horrible ones?

If it happened today, maybe a little.

If it happened last week, not much.

if it happened last month almost nothing.

This is as much a fault of the caller as anything, but my point is that no damage was really done if the buyer/recipient doesn't remember the person calling or the company they were calling from much less the whizz-bang product or service that failed to interest them.

Contrast that with my experiences of late with a certain email marketer. I've been on his list for quite some time, but usually just delete his emails. Not long ago, I realised that I was actually on his list twice so was deleting twice the amount of email that I needed to.

I decided to unsubscribe, but despite having the same email address on both "accounts", i could only get off his list once.

I then setup a rule to send his emails to a folder to see what the true volumes were. As I wasn't deleting them daily, I kind of forgot about until recently.and checked on the folder. After 90 days here is what I saw:

 

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That's right, 229 emails in 90 days. Many with the same headlines imploring me to save money on a deal that was expiring soon.

How is that "less intrusive" than a cold call?

How is that "more effective" than a cold call?

I guess it comes down to "for whom". 

Cold emails and social media posts spare the poster the direct feedback of a no.

Do you think the guy who sent me 229 emails in 90 days is sitting  at his desk bemoaning his lack of success in getting me as a customer? I doubt it.

In fact, he will continue to send me emails until I unsubscribe yet again or buy something. If I buy, it's proof that his system works. If I unsubscribe, there is no direct rejection despite me saying no to receiving any further communication.

Contrast that with picking up the phone, talking to a potential prospect and getting a direct no. 

Is there a difference?

Frame Control Redux

We wrote about Oren Klaff and his book Pitch Anything a while back. I gave my take on Frame Control. As usual, Oren has summed it up much better than I could.

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Every conversation we have is a battle of frames. Just knowing that will make you a better salesperson over the phone. 

I use a basic exercise to practise my understanding. After every conversation, try and label the frame(s) that was being used by the person on the other end of the line. It will challenge you to listen better and give you a better idea of how you project yourself on the phone.

Happy labelling and think about which side of the collision you ended up on..

What does the data say?

The folks over at Gong.io (check them out here) have done some really great work analyzing sales calls in the B2B space. For those of you who aren't familiar with them, their software "joins" the meetings that salespeople have, records both sides of the conversations and then automatically transcribes the calls so they are searchable then unleashes their Analytics Engine on to the calls so you can get insights into what is happening with your sales teams.

They took it one step further and are releasing studies they have done about what actually happens on more than 500,000 calls. Their work on objections, https://www.gong.io/blog/objection-handling-techniques/, should be required reading for anyone that attempts to make sales either on the phone or in-person.

I should write blog posts on each of the 12 "techniques" they detail. For now, I'll mention the first two and let you read the rest.

The number one technique - Pause

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Pausing when you sense an objection allows you to let the prospect finish their thought. People, especially on the phone, are uncomfortable with "dead air". Often they will spout their objection, hear the silence then continue on clarifying their position.  This requires effort on your part and re-dedicating yourself to listening.

The number two technique - Don't Speed Up

 

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I like to think of this as slow down, but the sentiment is the same. The bad salespeople in their analysis jumped right in on objections and increased their rate of speech. We've all been in these conversations where the seller wants to pile on the reasons to buy and they overwhelm you with information. Please don't do it.

Are the techniques they cite revolutionary? Absolutely not.

However, they are great reminders that it can be the little things that make a difference in a sales call.

It's also good to see data that supports common sense and reaffirms our teachings here.

The sale is never won by the better talker. Now we have data that supports this notion.

Who's calling?

If you are in telephone sales, the line between a cold and warm call really only exists in your head. After all, the majority of calls you make will have been "uninvited" in one way or another. 

You call prospects at your convenience. Sure, prospects invite you to call at set times and you don't want to miss those, but the rest of the calls you should be making will occur when you have the time (now) and inclination to dial.

You have two options at this point. Dial or wait for time when you think it will be better. As we mentioned in a previous post, there are no better times. Option 2 is an illusion crafted by our Amygdala to keep us from getting hurt mentally. The Amygdala was (and still probably is) great for keeping us out of the teeth of hungry lions, but it's horrible for helping us make sales.

The hidden gem of telephone sales today is Caller ID. It's a great tool and should be used to your advantage.

 "This could be important..."

"This could be important..."

The number one way to use it to your advantage is to display an actual number that rings to a phone that is answered. It doesn't have to be a live human answering (that helps), but at least answer it with a recording that helps satiate their curiosity and warms them for your next attempt. They can always leave a message and tell you not to call which saves you even more time.

Caller ID helps you cull the herd of bad prospects. All the people on this planet who tell you that they never answer a call from someone they don't know are secretly doing you a favor. Instead of answering the call, making up some excuse (I'm in a meeting") and wasting your time, they are ignoring the call and letting you get on to the prospects that do answer calls.

Many of these will wait until they think you are safely on to another prospect and then call you back to see who you were. The number of calls our inbound lines receive at midnight or later will never cease to amaze me. These are primarily "tire kickers" and time wasters so we don't want to speak to them any way.

However, consider those that have taken the time to check the Caller ID of the incoming call, realized they don't know the number and answered. These are gold. These are people with a developed sense of curiosity who need to be treated to a great experience.

When they answer the phone, they've self-selected into the "curious". It's your job to use that to your advantage and deliver value to soothe their curious nature.