Recently, I was reviewing what is working and not working on phone calls with customers or potential customers (my version of prospects – just sounds more positive to me.) And, there seemed to be seven statements that scream “I’m a Sale Person about to Try to Sell You Something!”
Now, I’m a b2b sales person with some serious wear and tear in the b2b sales world. And, I remember being taught to actually use these phrases by some pretty good sales trainers in a different time period for b2b sales.
However, times have changed. The “good ole boy” network is dying or dead. Customers have no time to lose or use for talking with sales people except for focused and purposeful dialogue about improvements. In fact, in many industries, due to the commodity pricing (and buying) – buyers are actually telling suppliers to stop sending b2b sales people to their offices. They prefer to buy using an electronic or internet connection for ordering – to lower their costs.
Times have changed. Therefore, it is your responsibility to lose the seven phrases that scream “old school sales person – beware!”. Because the buyer will disconnect from you either literally or figuratively – by not actually listening to anything else you say.
So here are the big seven you will want to lose from your prospecting calls…
The Big Seven No-No’s for Opening Phone Calls to Customers or Prospects…
- “How are you today?”
This is the question used by pure relationship builders who are trying to be nice. Instead of being nice, how about a little research into the company and ask a targeted question after stating what you believe is a potential problem or issue this person may be encountering. If true (a test of your research abilities), then the discussion will pick up in intensity since they want the problem or issue to go away.
- “I’m with XYZ Super Supplier. Have you heard about us?”
Shooting yourself in the foot maybe more eventful than this question – which screams we are an unknown and probably not a good choice for you in a highly political organization where safety is more important than results. It is much better to assume the person should know who you are in a very confident statement. Then if the person does not know your company, they will make every effort to join the main stream of knowledgeable people who do know who your company is. Be confident and assume knowledge.
- “I’m just calling today to introduce myself and my company.”
What a great way to announce – I want to waste your valuable time by telling you all about us! Duh! The key is to show interest in them and have some targeted and specific questions lined up to help them figure out solutions and improvement.
- “I’m calling to inform you about our new product, the SuperWidget Z1… sales pitch, sales pitch, blah, blah, blah.”
Sales pitch coming down the hatch. Run for cover. The customer is immediately bored – unless you have some how picked the exact item at the top of his or her target list of things to get. Chances are really slim you will be right unless you take the time to involve the customer in the dialogue and find out what they need most.
- “Who are you currently using as your key supplier for X products?”
This is an announcement that screams – I want to engage in a price war with your current supplier! I don’t care about value added or profitability – just get the order. Come on – Really? Think about engaging the customer in a dialogue about what is working and what they want to improve – and what is the value associated with the improvement.
- “Is now a good time to talk?”
Again with the nice person approach. Now, I actually use this one on specific occasions when I sense the customer is not attentive or focused with our phone appointment. In most cases, some big – more important – issue has come up that they are thinking about rather than what you are talking about. When this happens, I actually set up a firm phone or personal visit with the individual. They are pleased to do this since they are focused upon the bigger problem – and they will appreciate you working with them. However, if you use this statement every time you make a call and actually get a person to answer – you are screaming out – you are more important than me. I have all the time in the world since I have no customers demanding my attention. Being courteous rather than just being nice is okay. Yet, you must be seen as a valuable resource with limited availability yourself. Think equal rather than subordinate.
- “I’m not trying to sell you anything.”
Bull! This actually worked in the old days to lower resistance levels of buyers, yet, today the buyers have all been trained to recognize and ignore this tactic for what it is – a lie. I know someone will object and tell me they really do not want to them – today – that their mission is only to learn and get information – before returning with just the right solution. NEWS FLASH – buyers and decision makers want to work with totally honest sales people who state the truth. It works better to state the truth – I need to get some information or verify information with you before I can suggest a solution to you. In fact, we may not have a solution to fit your situation – at which time I would refer you to people who could fix the problem. After that statement of truth, the buyer or decision maker will actually become honest with you and give you more information than you believed you could get.
There you have it. Seven ways to cause a problem for your self in an opening phone conversation with a customer or potential customer. Think about your purpose before making a call – what is the purpose or objective. What information do you need to get? What possible issues or problems does this type of customer generally have based upon your experience?
In summary, plan your calls thoroughly and your success rate with improve. If you continue to use the seven opening statements listed above – your success rate will be crashing to even lower levels.
Mush success in your future opening phone calls to start the b2b sales process.