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

 

Press Pause.png

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.

Who are you competing against?

"Who is your competition on this deal?"

"Who do you compete with in this market?"

"Who else is bidding on this project?"

If you are in sales, you probably hear questions like this all the time.

Most people think immediately about companies or products in this situation and I understand why. When we are thinking about solutions to problems, we immediately think in absolutes and options.

Here at API Group our biggest competition is the default option - Doing Nothing.

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It's true and not only for potential clients. In our day-to-day activities making sales for financial services companies over the phone, we miss more sales with people who do nothing than we do for prospects who choose to buy from someone else.

You'll automatically make more sales by focusing on this competitor, inaction, than any product or service that might be an alternative in the market.

The enemy is inaction. The next time you pick up the phone, instead of thinking about making a sale, think about getting the prospect to do something, even if it means buying from someone else. 

Have an attitude of action and watch sales increase.

The best time to call is...

Companies spend thousands of dollars every day (second?) to generate leads online. Have you ever wondered what happens to them?

The folks over at InsideSales.com have taken some time to study this issue and try to come up with some optimal times to call. They started research in 2007 and have continued to update it.

Through a series of charts and graphs they break down days of the week, times of the day and the response from time created. It can be fascinating stuff for those of us in the business.

One of my favorites is this one:

More than 3/4's of the leads never got called.

The first thing any company needs to do is have a system to follow up leads. The same study showed that 55% of leads never received even an email response.

I'm sure this isn't your company. You have a system. While you are thinking about it, take some time to evaluate your own sales process to see if there is any chance for prospects to "fall through a gap". Chances are that there is a gap and it needs closing.

If you can't see a way to close the gap, talk to an outsourcer like us and we'll make sure that prospects are attended to promptly and get them into the sales funnel. 

 

What are we thinking before we make that call?

We think it's important to pull ideas and concepts from wherever we can, not just in phone sales. One of our favorite resources for ideas is the Advanced Selling Podcast (check it out here). They are focused on B to B selling, but I find it to be a good listen for ideas that can be applicable to the B to C world we live in.

They preach to their listeners the concept of detachment. What I think they mean is to divorce yourself from the outcome of any meeting or deal. This is more relevant for phone sales than anything else I can think of. 

If you were to summarize most people's complaints about sales calls they have received, you can trace them back to lack of detachment (manifested as scarcity and desperation). Whether you know it or not, your voice gives your motives away. 

We've all received a call where we could sense that the person on the other end was desperate for a sale or needed an appointment or meeting from us to keep their job. It's almost visceral to listen to their pain.

Before you pick up the phone, rid yourself of the "neediness" for an outcome. Why even worry about an outcome when the likelihood is that the call won't even be answered.

Instead, stay present, focus on your introduction and don't worry about what might happen beyond the intro.

You will immediately sound different from anyone else that calls that prospect today or any other day for that matter.

Sounding different is your best weapon. It causes your prospect to think and shakes them out of whatever daze they are in and lets them begin to at least pay attention to what you are saying.

Where it goes from there is still up to you. Getting their attention is battle number one.

Are you ready for the collision?

We love books here at API Group and spend a lot of time talking about them and looking for new sources. One of the most often cited here is Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff (Amazon).

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Oren's background is investment background and the focus of the book is on presentations. Don't let that stop you from reading it as it is Telesales gold. 

His chapters on Frame Control should be mandatory reading for anyone that picks up a phone.

What is a Frame? Frames are a point of view, a perspective or a position. Everyone has them especially when you are in a selling situation. Your prospect is putting on a defensive attitude about being called out of the blue (frame) and you have your own frame that involves getting to the next step.

That is no revelation. The revelation is that, "Frames do not combine or mix, they collide

That's what happens on every call, a frame collision. A verbal crash.

And as Oren says, "The strongest frame wins".

So how do we make sure our frame is the strongest?

While it fits with the analogy, it's not necessarily brute force. From our experience "Strength of Frame equals Technique + Enthusiasm."

Think about this the next time you pick up the phone, "Am I prepared for the collision?"

For more information about the book and the programs that Oren and his team offer, check them out at www.PitchAnything.com.

Strength of Frame = Technique + Enthusiasm