Good communication is an art and sales reps who master the subtle nuances involved when it comes to talking to their Internet prospects can be far more effective than those who don’t.  Here are 8 blunders to avoid when you’re talking to Internet sales leads, and suggestions on what you can say instead.

Blunder 1: Calling your sales prospect a “lead” to their face or even referring to the “lead they submitted” online

The concept of a lead is wholly one-sided. When a business product buyer provides their contact information online,  they’re thinking, “I need specific product information so I can make the best purchase decision.” It sounds obvious, but all too often, we hear about vendors who open their conversation with, “Yes, I’m following up on the lead you submitted online.” Before you pick up the phone, get past viewing the person you’re about to talk to as a lead. Get into the mindset that you are talking to a fellow professional and it’s your job to understand their needs. Make the jump from “my lead” to “What are your needs.”

Here’s an example of what you can say:
“Hello, Jane. This is John Smith, a representative with ABC Inc., and I’m calling to follow up on your request for more information on xxxxxxxx, what I need to do first is gain a better understanding of your company and your needs.”

Blunder 2: Not saying your full name, title, and where you’re calling from when you open the conversation

To reiterate the example above, always say your full name, and in most cases – your title, and where you are calling from when you open the conversation. We know that business products are partially motivated by fear – because it’s their reputation at and possibly even their job on the line if they make a bad purchase decision. Assume you are dealing with a skittish buyer. By stating your name and where you’re calling from, you’re taking the first steps in alleviating suspicion and fear.

Here’s an example of what you can say:
“Hello, Jane. This is John Smith, regional representative for ABC Inc..”

Blunder 3: Focusing on the fact that your prospect submitted a lead and where they did so online vs. focusing on the specific reason they requested information

After you announce yourself, put the conversation back into your prospect’s court. The beauty of an Internet lead vs. a cold call is that your prospect made the first move. Because people’s natural reaction to sales calls is to be selling (even if they requested the information first), it’s important to remind them that you are responding to their request in order to address their needs, and understand THEIR requirements before you proceed with your valuable products.  

You can say something more along these lines:
“Hello, Jane. This is John Smith, a representative with ABC Inc., and I’m calling to follow up on your request for more information on xxxxxxxx, what I need to do first is gain a better understanding of your company and your needs.”

Blunder 4: Giving up at the first brush off

With business buyers, you’re competing for their time and attention. So if your prospect brushes you off on the first phone call, don’t just accept it and give up on the lead. This is a sales prospect who specifically requested information on the types of products you’re selling, but they also have a job to do. At the least, ask to provide them with some additional information (i.e. “consultative selling”) – again, to help them in their research process.

You can say something more along these lines:
“I understand you’re still evaluating products, but as an expert from ABC Inc., I’m sure I can give you some general, objective information to help you in your decision-making process and help you to provide siginificant value to your company.

Blunder 5: Talking before listening and not asking enough questions

Your job as a company rep is to discover your prospect’s needs before offering your products. You need to draw them out. Do not assume they are all ready to buy today.

You might ask something more along these lines:
“What are some of the biggest challenges you currently face with your system or systems”?
“Can you tell me a little bit about what functionality your team requires to make them more efficient”?

Blunder 6: Asking them questions about the information you already have in their lead

If you are calling on pre-qualified sales leads, your sales prospect has already provided some information on their purchase preferences. Asking them to repeat information they already provided can cause them to lose patience and even diminish the confidence they have in your company. If you do want to verify information, ask a question that takes the information in the lead one step further, meanwhile validating the information you already have.

For example:
“I see that you’re looking for CRM tools to be used by your sales team of 75. Can you share with me information on why you’ve decided to make the switch to a new system?”

Blunder 7: Focusing on how you sell vs. how they buy

You may have a very solid sales process in place for how you provide information and the sales cycle you’re working in, but never lose sight of the buying process on the other side of your sales process. You can find out about your prospect’s buying process by asking the right questions.

For example:
“Are there others in your organization who will play a role in this decision?”
“I’m sure you have a lot of competing priorities right now. Can I get a sense of the timeline for this project?”
“Does this work with your current budget? Or would this be more of an Ad Hoc ask from you?

Blunder 8: Not answering pricing questions

If your sales prospect asks you about pricing, the worst thing you can do is be evasive. Study after study shows that business buyers want to buy from someone they trust – and a lack of trust will always be disruptive in a sale, regardless of price.  If you do not know or cannot say per your process, you may want to try this:

You might say something more along these lines:

“I would like to give you the specific price for what you’re looking for, but first I need to get more details around your need so that I can pass this to the applicable expert at our company that can further discuss the solution and provide the highest value for you, and of course the highest ROI”

By focusing on your lead’s needs first and asking the right questions, you can avoid the blunders that too many sales reps make, and be a standout against the competition.