Besides zombie apocalypses and catastrophic weather events, movies love to show us what the rise of the machines will look like. Blade Runner, The Terminator, and Ex Machiana have filled our minds with how artificial intelligence will take over many of our current jobs. And then kill us all. But first they took our jobs.
Maybe some day those lifelike robots will conduct sales calls and sell used cars, but I’m certain I’ll be retired before AI advances to that level. If it does at all. In truth, personal relationships still matter and are one of our most important advantages over the machines. A particularly effective way to start building those relationships with prospects or customers is good old-fashioned phone work.
According to a recent blog on hubspot, it can take an average of 18 calls to actually connect with a buyer. The objective of each of those calls, whether the customer answers or not, should be to build of trust and understanding. Having a warm-blooded human on the phone can do more to educate customers, establish a genuine connection, and personalize a customer's experience than an hour or two clicking through your company's website. It might be the same information, but the delivery is what makes all the difference.
Here are some important things we try to emphasis for our people at The Alias Group when making that dial:
Have a Goal
Starting with the end in mind is a practice I’ve lived by throughout my career. This philosophy is typically used on large projects to ensure that a team is continuing to move towards an endpoint. It acts as a compass in a forest full of details. Having a goal reminds you of where your call is supposed to lead.
A good sales call requires the salesman to have enough background and understanding of the prospect to keep them engaged. Prospects don't buy from a salesman who knows nothing about that prospect's business. As the call weaves into unpredictable directions, understanding the prospect, their organization, and their background will allow you keep the conversation on track while still personalizing it to your prospect.
Be Patient and Relaxed
Remember, you are trying to build rapport so the customer will take your future calls. When we train new salespeople, we try to get them to envision a successful call. We tell them to imagine themselves with a cup of coffee or tea, feet up on the desk, genuinely getting to know the customer. Not rushed and pushy spitting out product facts.
On initial calls we don’t expect our salespeople to pitch features and benefits. We expect them to develop a deeper understanding of the customer. Find out what issues they are currently having, and what is important to them personally and professionally. It is this foundation that allows you to win their trust and business later on in the process.
Be an excellent listener
The phone eliminates the ability to read body language and other non-verbal cues, making the art of active listening even more important. Be present during the conversation, don’t check the internet or look at your cell phone during the discussion. Respond with questions or statements that show your prospect that you heard what they are saying. Understand their pain with their current product or service so you can utilize that later in your conversation.
Recognize the opportunity to close
Hopefully, staying patient and focused on the customer means, at some point in the conversation, you can identify and create an opportunity. If that moment arises, it's important to be ready to talk through how your product or service can provide an excellent return on investment. After all, getting a sale is why we are calling in the first place and it's impossible to rely on an algorithm to do it for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Dohl is the Vice President of Sales at The Alias Group and uses his operations experience driving improvement in manufacturing processes to streamline the sales process. The goal of The Alias Group is to create unique sales and marketing processes to drive customers’ growth in a wide range of industries.
Before coming to work at The Alias Group in 2006, he studied Operations Management at the University of Delaware and worked at W.L. Gore & Associates as a Manufacturing Leader in the Electronic and Industrial divisions.
Chris’s passion is his family, and enjoys running his daughter and two sons to a variety of sporting events. On a rare break from selling and enjoying time with his family, Chris enjoys golfing at his home course, Hartefeld National, and playing poker with his buddies.