One of the most challenging steps in the top of funnel sales process is securing that first meeting.
Luckily, from reviewing, studying, rehearsing, and sharpening call habits, I know that focusing on the following seven tips will help you schedule more initial meetings.
Tip #1: Set An Objective For Every Call
I use a pre-call planning worksheet and check off primary and secondary call objectives.
Primary call objectives include:
- Building rapport
- Gathering information
- Understanding needs
- Determining fit
Secondary call objectives include:
- Calling back (do not leave a message)
- Leaving a voicemail (similar to leaving behind a brochure on somebody's desk)
- Re-dialing the gatekeeper or receptionist for information gathering
- Calling in-and-around the bullseye (Predictable Prospecting - page 53 - Influencer Map)
Tip #2: Be Mindful Of Your Tone
Unlike face-to-face meetings where body language grabs a large portion of success, the tone of your voice accounts for a whopping 75% of your success on the phone.
Five ways you can change your tonality include:
- Smiling when you talk
- Emphasizing keywords
- Speaking clearly, crisply, and cleanly
- Changing your talking speed (usually 160-170 words per minute)
- Standing up (there is more power in your voice if you stand)
Try reading a simple paragraph leaning on your elbow with your hand on your cheek. Now read that same paragraph standing up and smiling. Sound different? It should.
Tip #3: Use Positive Language
Below is a snapshot of negative phrases modified to positive phrases. For example, instead of using the word "change," shifting to the words "improve, increase, modify, amend or alter" has been proven to consistently work better for calls. To use more positive language, make a list substituting negative language to positive language. Then document what happens on your call (call wrap-up), review how the call flowed using a more positive talk track, and continue to improve.
Tip #4: Create Winning Openers
A foundational practice from Predictable Revenue's framework is starting conversations through internal referral. Here are some examples of explicit and implied internal referral openers:
- Explicit Referral: "Good morning Jackie. John suggested I give you a call. One of our studies on conversion rate optimization got his attention and he thought you might feel the same way."
- Implied Referral: "Good morning Isabel. I noticed in your Annual Report your CEO John Stewart stated increasing your B2B sales pipeline is one of the top initiatives for ABC company in 2021.”
- Implied Referral: "I'm calling you especially because I know you're interested in..."
Tip #5: Craft Interesting Grabbing Statements
Use words like maximize, increase, grow, minimize, reduce, decrease, eliminate, acquire, prevent... in a sentence to grab your prospect by the ear (so-to-speak). Use the following sentence structure to craft an interest-grabbing statement:
- Structure: I + [show | give | enable] + [prospect persona role] + [major benefit to the prospect]
- Example: I show Directors of Sales Strategy how to leverage people, process and technology to triple their sales qualified opportunities in as little as six weeks.
Tip #6: Know What Questions to Ask
Group your questions into four categories:
- Pain Questions: Questions that reveal a potential problem, difficulty or dissatisfaction they are experiencing; these are opportunities for your product or service to be a solution.
Example: What are you trying to do, specifically, to alleviate this problem?
- Implication Questions (from the SPIN selling model-- there are four question types (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need): Implication questions are the toughest to master, but the most effective in getting meetings. They help the buyer see that his problem is serious enough to justify spending time with you and taking that first meeting.
Example: What effect do these problems have on your competitive position? How will this problem affect your people's productivity?
- Direct Questions: Use direct questions when you want to know something specific before you can continue your conversation. You'll get a short answer, but it shouldn't be a YES or a NO answer.
Example: What were you hoping I could do for you?
- Tie-Down Questions: This is a listening technique where you repeat back to the prospect, paraphrasing what you heard, and then get agreement or confirmation.
Example: You have missed your quota for 3 consecutive quarters, is that correct?
Tip #7: Learn To Love Objections
Make an objection grid that has three columns:
- The objection (send me info, not interested, already have a supplier, already solved the problem, who are you, why is yours better, etc...)
- What to say in response to that objection
- The next logical question to ask the prospect; hopefully it's an implication question to get them thinking beyond what they know now
Chet Holmes used to say that building a sales machine means you are primarily in a proactive mode. Making calls to secure meetings is a proactive process as well.
Planning and practicing are key elements for success. The more time you spend making call after call, the better you will get. Working up to two hours of uninterrupted, single-focused, block time is a must if you want to succeed at generating more meetings.
If you plan, practice and execute these habits proactively you will generate more meetings, more sales qualified opportunities and ultimately, more sales.