Too often business development reps do themselves a disservice by masking their personalities, and consequently becoming someone who sounds boring or disinterested. And why should prospects on the other end of the phone show interest or enthusiasm if sales reps haven’t done that themselves?
What typically happens when an inside sales rep first gets hired is that the kitchen sink gets thrown their way during training – technical functionalities, competitive differentiators, key benefits, etc. – and it’s often left up to the individual sales rep once they’re on their own to grasp how much he or she really needs to know in order to qualify an MQL or SQL. In my opinion, people get so trapped in their own head, wondering what they should or shouldn’t say, that as a result, they convey no sense of uniqueness or neglect to be personable during conversations.
This is when they become droids! And not like the “lightening fast phone” that “does it all,” either. More like how C-3PO is a droid, but sans the witty personality. These types of droids just ask question after question, like an ill-timed telemarketing call survey just as you sit down for dinner after a 12-hour work day. They’re monotone and the conversation is one-sided and forgettable.
My goal, especially when working with newer business development reps, is getting them to a place where they can talk about the company and the technology in a way that’s conversational and demonstrates reciprocation. You can’t solely focus on the questions you need answers to and expect results; you have to be able to level with your prospects and establish a connection in a very short amount of time. You don’t have the time during a cold call to provide a presentation or get a long list of questions answered, so it’s crucial that you sound lively and personable in a manner that can effectively engage your prospects in a two-way discussion.
I was once on a project for a client that provided technology that automates the rewriting of custom ABAP code for ERP upgrades. Through many conversations with prospects in this space, I heard people pronounce the ABAP acronym two different ways; one with a soft “A” and the other with a hard “A” pronunciation. One day I had the right contact on the phone, and we were talking about upcoming projects, and I said something to the effect of, “Hey, let me ask you something. I’ve been calling on this for quite a while now and it seems like everyone has their own way of pronouncing ‘ABAP’ coding. Any idea how you’re really suppose to say it?” Even though it sounded stupid, he laughed and admitted he had no idea either! He too had heard it said different ways. After that moment, he seemed much more relaxed with me on the phone. It was a trivial comment, but I felt like it humanized me and made me sound different from the typical script-verbatim cold caller. As it turned out, he became a qualified lead that I passed over.
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Whether you have four or five qualification questions that must have answers tied to them, my best advice is to hone in on the absolute necessary criteria that you need in order to qualify the lead. Ingrain that criteria in your brain and make sure you have a high-level understanding of the technology — high-level enough where you could sit down with a co-worker in the cafeteria and explain how the technology helps companies without getting too technical and without confusing him or her. You need to get to this comfort level as quickly as possible so you can use your personality to help solidify trust, credibility and most importantly – leads!
For more information, check out Mike Riccardelli’s previous blog post about how to create a “Message Map,” a road map for inside sales reps to be able to sell or describe anything in 15 seconds.