The Secrets to Engaging Business Buyers on the Phone

“Stop selling. Start helping.” — Zig Ziglar

When you’re on the phone with a business prospect, you likely have a goal of creating a sales opportunity or making a sale. Since you have quotas to meet, it’s not surprising that you’re laser focused on selling.

The only way you’re going to sell anything to other business people, however, is to help them to solve a problem. So when you make a business phone call, imprint the wise words of Zig Ziglar on your brain. “Stop selling. Start helping.”

That’s the key to engagement.

That said, it’s easier said than done. You need to know the secrets to putting your prospect’s problem in the forefront. Here are six steps you can take during a business phone call to help your potential customer.

1. Don’t Act Like a Robocall

You probably get plenty of calls that deliver recorded sales spiels. There’s no warmth and no connection. For the seller, it’s just a numbers game. You likely also receive calls from real, live human beings reading word for word from call scripts. These Robocalls and scripted calls have one thing in common. They focus on the callers’ rather than the recipients’ goals.

You need to flip this around. Instead of talking at prospects, talk with them. Most people enjoy conversations, but as soon as the sales pitch winds up they shut down.

2. Introduce the Benefits Your Company Offers

There is a critical difference between introducing your company with and without the supporting benefits. Let’s say one of our business development specialists called a marketing leader and said, “Hello, Mr. Prospect. I’m Sue Smith from 3D2B, a global teleservices company that makes business phone calls.” She’s focused on features, which are dry and uninteresting.

Instead, Sue might say, “We’re a global teleservices company that generates leads for our clients. In fact, when we partnered with a world leader in enterprise software to generate and nurture leads, we produced 17,000 leads, of which 85% were accepted by sales.”

Because marketing leaders are almost always interested in ways to generate leads their sales force will love, this statement is far more compelling.

3. Tell the Prospect Why You’re Calling

If you want to engage the prospect, you need to be upfront and honest. So tell prospects why you’re calling. Sue’s calling because she wants to introduce her lead generation services. But she needs agreement from the prospect that they are interested in learning about them. To find out, she simply adds a question to the statement above. After relaying the remarkable lead generation story, she says “If we can help you generate highly qualified leads, would you be interested?” Conversation started.

4. Invite the Prospect to Talk

When the discussion starts, you have cleared the first hurdle. Now it’s time to fuel the exchange. That doesn’t mean you need to do the talking. As Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” What’s most important is that you listen actively with the goal of gaining a solid understanding of the issues your prospect is trying to resolve and their ramifications to his or her business. By delving into these areas, you will engage your prospect, be able to direct them to the solution that provides the highest value, and determine whether they are qualified to buy.

5. Recap the Call

By summarizing the call at the end, you ensure that you and your prospect have a shared understanding of the relevant topics. The recap should sum up the problem, a high-level solution concept and the benefits of it.

6. Determine the Next Steps

End the call by establishing the next step required to solve your prospect’s problem (and make the sale). Is it a trial, another phone call, an in-person meeting or something else? Whatever it is, make sure your prospect agrees and confirm the date and time for a future contact.

The next time you conduct a business phone call, make it your priority to uncover your prospect’s problems and help find a solution. Don’t worry about making the sale. If the potential customer is qualified and you take these steps to engage them, the sale will naturally follow. Talk with your prospect, not at them. When you introduce your company, emphasize the benefits you offer. Explain why you’re calling in a way that piques your prospect’s interest. Then, quickly invite them into the conversation, listen actively and keep the dialogue going by asking relevant questions. Finally, once you’ve explored the problems and introduced possible solutions, recap the highlights of the call and determine your next steps. By helping your prospect, you’ll be well on your way to making a sale.