Here we are at the fourth and final installment of the series, 4 Tips to Power Up Prospecting in 2015, from Mike Weinberg’s presentation at the 2015 Virtual Sales Kickoff. His final tip is a passionate plea calling all sales reps to return to the telephone.
Tip 4 – Reconcile your relationship with the phone.
Let’s face it. The telephone has lost its luster. Poor Alexander Graham Bell is probably turning over in his grave. Once the belle (excuse the pun) of the ball, most phones now sit as props—collecting dust—neglected, abused and disparaged. No wonder people say it no longer works—that is, except for Mike (and me). He is still a huge fan and attributes much of his success early on in his career to the telephone.
Mike firmly believes, as do I, that the telephone is absolutely essential to successful sales prospecting. The problem is we’ve lost our skills. The longer we keep the phone on the back burner, the less practice we have. And the less practice we have, naturally, the more our professional phone skills suffer.
So, in closing this series, I’d like to share Mike’s tips on how to begin restoring your relationship with the phone and thus improve your prospecting calls.
1) Be clear about your objective: Your first and most important objective is to secure the next step, which is a discovery conversation. This will require laser focus, as the temptation can be to start over-qualifying the prospect in the heat of the moment. There will be a time for that in future conversations.
2) Get to the issue: Address your prospect’s issues AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Avoid the tendency to start talking about yourself, your company, etc. Use “client addressed” talking points to position yourself, lower their resistance and keep them engaged in the conversation.
3) Prepare for resistance: Resistance is inevitable—so be prepared for it. Mike recommends that you plan to ask at least three times for the next step. Understand the first “no” will be automatic. It will be their natural response because NO ONE is looking for another meeting. Genuinely acknowledge their objections. Let them see you understand. Assure them that even if there’s no next step for you, they have the opportunity to come out of it with new ideas and better options. There are plenty of ways to promise value and be persistent while remaining completely professional.
4) Embrace voicemail: It’s time to start changing our minds and attitudes concerning voicemail. It’s a fact of life. Expect it. Mike says to use it as an opportunity to leave “value nuggets”—short, focused messages about the prospect’s needs, not your product. Another crucial piece of advice he shares is to try to leave each voicemail as if it’s only the first in a series of voicemails over a finite period of time. People rarely return first voicemails, and unfortunately most sales reps stop calling after their first (unanswered) call. Persistence and resilience, when executed professionally, will earn you respect—and hopefully secure the next step.
I hope you’ve found these tips as useful as I have. I genuinely appreciated his direct, no-nonsense approach and the practical application he shared. There’s no doubting his passion, enthusiasm and expertise as far as prospecting and new business development is concerned.