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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=strategic selling'>strategic selling</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Prospecting'>Prospecting</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Sales'>Sales</a>
Sales Strategy
Jun 12, 2016 | Colleen Francis lock

Picture a stopwatch with 30 seconds. The second you get a prospect on the phone, your time is ticking to make a moving first impression.

However, when time runs out, all the prospect wants to do is end the call instead of being engaged in the conversation.

This is a result of several factors such as being self-centered and assuming information which ultimately create resistance, instead of creating a relationship.

Remove the "I" focus
Next, remove the "I" focus from your opener.

Don’t use "I"-focused statements like:

  • I'll only take a minute of your time.
  • I'm calling because…
  • I've been told that…
  • I was speaking with…
  • I'd like to talk to you about…

Remember: the call should be about them, not you! If the prospect hears the word "I" first, they retreat and think, who cares what you want, what about me? Like everyone, your clients are interested in what's in it for them. I recommend you give them what they want right up front.

Instead of using the "I" word (or any of its variants), try some of the following ideas:

  1. If you're calling because of a referral, use the reference's name first, as in: "Colleen Francis suggested I call."
  2. If it's a follow-up call, remind them what they wanted you to do: "The last time we spoke, you asked me to call today with pricing information."
  3. If this is a cold call with no reference, build a third party story focused on people like your prospect, such as: "CIO's like yourself have been pleased with the security our product offers from email viruses. They've told me that…. Is that important to you?"
  4. If you don't know who you should be talking to, try a question, like: "Maybe you can help me?" People usually have a tough time refusing help when they're asked for it, so make sure that you use that word!
  5. If you reach a gatekeeper for a client, you're having a hard time reaching, try: "Maybe you can help me? I've been trying to reach Ms. Francis for a week now with no luck. Do you know if there's a best time to find her in her office?"
  6. Lastly, steer clear of statements that save the client "time and money." While they may be true, almost every company, product and salesperson out there is making the exact same claim - including your competitors. Instead, try to create an opening that differentiates your product or service - not one that makes you blend in with the rest of the pack.

Never assume!
With all things in life, remember what your parents told you: When you assume, you make an A** (Guess the rest) out of U and ME!

Your Prospect will not engage if you say these bold or assumptive claims, such as:

  • Are you looking for ways to become more profitable?
  • Who are you using today for your sales training?
  • I have a product that can save you money on your travel budgets.
  • We're in the business of making our clients more successful.
  • We create partnerships with our clients to help them save money on…
  • We can improve your…
  • I want to show you how we would help you…
  • I know we can save you time and money.
  • We can eliminate your problems.

If you call someone who doesn't know you, and the first thing they hear is how you can do something for them, it causes an instinctive resistance to kick in. The first natural reaction is to doubt that you can do what you claim. That is the cue to fight actively on it, and to react with something like: You don't even know me. How do you know you can do that? You have no idea what you're talking about, so I'm going to argue with you, and then get rid of you.

To be fair, maybe you CAN do something for them. That's not the point. What's critical at this early stage of the call is to realize that your client hasn't yet bought into that idea. The problem with the phrases listed at the top of this article is that they all assume your client has a problem that they want to fix. You might be right, but you also might be wrong. Either way, hearing about it from a salesperson they don't yet know, trust or respect naturally builds resistance.

What should you say instead? Replace the assumptive language with softer words such as "depend," "might" or "possible." For example:

"Mary, business owners like you tell me that we've been able to save them money on their printing costs. Depending on your printing requirements, it might be possible that we can do the same for you. Can we discuss your printing requirements now?"

A few last words of advice - to build a relationship and avoid creating resistance, make sure that your mindset going into the call is focused on two key things:

  1. On the customer (not on you); and
  2. On starting a conversation (not on trying to sell them something).

Focusing your mind in these two areas will help you relax on the call, and project a warm and friendly demeanor that your customer will respond to more positively.

Also, be prepared for every call! An unpracticed call sounds forced, and nothing's worse than a salesperson who comes off sounding like a salesperson. So practice, practice and practice again until you master the language.

Lastly, have fun! Make your prospects smile, and try smiling yourself. After all, this isn't rocket science; it's a sales call. Once you’ve gone through the motions, your cold call reluctance will soon be replaced by a string of successes - and commissions!

About the Author:

colleenColleen is driven by a passion for sales - and results. A successful sales leader for over 20 years, she understands the challenges of selling in today's market and that business leaders can no longer rely on approaches to sales based on techniques from decades ago. Colleen works with business and sales leaders to design, implement and hone their sales teams to seize market opportunities. She is also an acclaimed author and wrote the popular "Nonstop Sales Boom" and "Honesty Sells" books. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.

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