Nobody likes dealing with needy or desperate people, right? Of course, this isn’t exclusive to sales people; think of if you both swiped right on some dating app and decided to actually meet up in-person.
If you show up and she’s immediately telling you all about how when she gets married both families are flying to Tahoe for a week and how her dress will look like this, and the bridesmaids will look like that, and the menu will have (on and on and on), you’ll be like: “I’m out!”
And of course you may not say it, but you’re thinking it – and her chances of getting a second date are pretty slim at that point.
Think about how if you need help with something bad enough that you get to the point where you’re doing Google searches and submitting requests to be contacted on different companies’ websites. And of course, we’ve all done this at one point or another, but what if you got called by someone who just sounded … cool, like:
- Confident but not cocky
- Authoritative but not abrasive
- Nice but not too nice (people who are too nice at first are weird, right?)
- Humble but not timid
- Enthusiastic but not all crazy
- Genuinely wants to help but doesn’t sound like he or she wants anything
You’d more than likely get a good, instinctive feeling about working with that person and the company he or she represents, and things will more than likely go smooth from that point forward.
Another secret weapon on calls is to (and I do this on every call), somewhere towards the beginning, casually mention: “… And I’m just taking some notes as we speak here. I wanna make sure I get everything right …”
This is really a command to: SLOW DOWN.
It makes the potential client feel good, too, because you’re paying attention and taking them seriously. This works EVERY TIME. They’ll slow their rate of speech down just a little bit and they’ll appreciate the fact that you’re actually paying attention. This is literally a piece of “active listening skills,” which is an often-times overlooked aspect of communication. Active listening is an especially crucial component of communication, though – especially when over the phones – so this is a secret weapon way of showing that you’re actively listening.
And to prove that there is a logical flow to the way questions should go, I’ve done an exercise with my team where I’ll randomly ask the questions on worksheet. I’ll talk through the end of the Intro and Agenda Statement and I’d ask:
- “So, what can we help with?”
And then I’d basically rattle off some typical things our potential clients would say and then start asking questions, like:
- “What’s the best number to reach you on?”
- “The one you called.”
- “Okay, and … how did you hear of us?”
- “Internet search for Credit Recovery.”
- “Okay … do you know your district enrollment, by chance?”
- “Um … I think it’s about … 2,800.”
- “Okay … How long’ve you been there?”
- “Um … 2 years.”
- “How many students would we be looking to serve?”
- “… about 80.”
- “And what’s your role at the school?”
- “I’m the principal.”
See? It makes no sense and I sound like some novice who’s reading off some checklist.
Meanwhile, if you have your questions strategically mapped out, they’ll sometimes even start connecting the dots and they’ll give you answers to questions before you even ask them, and this is really how you can get people to open up and feel like they can trust you.
Not to get too crazy into neuroscience here, but when people start “clicking” like this, their brains start producing dopamine and it feels good! (This is also how real rapport gets built and why if feels good).
And then, have “What Comes Next” mapped out, and be able to confidently (and accurately) say what they are. All of this only serves to further solidify the fact that your potential client is working with an EXPERT.
I was in Austin, Texas, working with our teams there on stuff like this (communication frameworks), and one of the team members there laughed at the part where I was talking about this.
“You laughed,” I said, and she felt embarrassed for a moment. “No, that’s a good thing!” I said, “you laughed because of how simple this is, and that’s a good thing. Like, ‘Duh!’ right?!”
And they all laughed and got it.
When I map out frameworks and process flows of any kind, I really do it with a reductionist viewpoint. Meaning: I do my best to reduce the complexity and make things as simple as possible. Communication wants to flow in a certain way, so identifying how it wants to go and channeling it in a way that is mutually beneficial for all parties involved is a good thing.
So, if your organization has a team like mine that handles leads before they go to sales who operate on this level, what this does is, is it lays the groundwork for this “next-level” type of optimized experience throughout the entire sales process and beyond.
Potential clients LOVE this. And account executives love this, too, because what we’re doing on these calls, asides from basic qualification (surface level activity), is we’re purposefully aligning what the potential clients want (some help) with what the organization wants (to help them) and doing it in a way that doesn’t set off alarms.
“I’m not concerned with what potential clients KNOW about the organization when they get off the phone with us,” I’ve told my team, many times. “I’m concerned with how they FEEL.”
If your organization has sales reps who handle first contact to close, then all of this still applies.
I think a big risk that runs in environments like those is the sales people get eager and they want to jump straight into sales mode whenever they speak with anyone. If you get eager and jump the gun, it spooks people and they get scared off, so even if you handle first contact to close, it would be wise to have a clear line of delineation between your marketing / qualification / sales efforts.
Lead qualification, at least from what I’ve seen, typically gets classified as a “marketing” function, but realistically, it should classified as a “sales” function because the sale starts the moment humans first start to speak.
You see, a big misunderstanding that I’ve seen out there (I’d go as far as to call this a fatal flaw), is that people think the sale starts when they’re walking a potential client through a demo or a proposal, because this is the point where money can finally be exchanged for goods and services. But, if you are picking up what I’m putting down here, then you’ll understand that the sale starts the moment the humans start to actually speak – it starts when you go through qualification and intelligence gathering, and how you transition to the next phase of the operation, and the next.
Experience plays a HUGE role in how people make purchasing decisions, so it’s mission-critical to have a standardized framework for how your teams interact with potential clients in the pre-sale relationship (as well as the post-sale relationship).
Because of how precise and thorough my team is when handling leads, the account executives we support never have leads ask them:
- “So, how long is this gonna take?”
We diffuse that bomb before it has a chance to go off because of what we explain when we tell them about “What Comes Next.” From our scripting:
- “And since the next call with [Cara] will be a much more thorough, much more in-depth needs analysis call … she will reserve thirty minutes for ya … just so you guys can comfortably discuss all the necessary details of what you’re looking for help with … and ensure we have enough time to answer all your questions …”
Potential clients also never demand quotes immediately, because my team takes the few seconds or so to explain that:
- “Alright, so first off, I just wanna let ya know that we don’t have any sort of like, set packages or one size fits all solutions … so if we do anything for you, it will be customized according to lots of different factors,” and of course after that we tell them about the next call with Cara.
And what we’re doing with this style of communication, really, is we’re getting the leads to TAKE. US. SERIOUSLY.
And I know I showed some conversion rates earlier, but this is why there was a drastic shift in lead quality for my organization throughout 2018. It’s because of these strategic, communicative tactics that are used by the team that resides at the top of the sales funnel.
When I first started at this organization, not even kidding – I’m talking about my sixth day on the job; I had scheduled calls with the sales managers and this one says to me: “Well, your team sends us all these leads and they never even answer the phone, so what’s the point?!”
Well, things have changed for my organization, and I’m sharing my secrets with you. This is all some SECRET WEAPON, GAME-CHANGING STUFF, and the words in these frameworks are just a fraction of it: seven percent.
Ninety-three percent of it is having the right information for this point in the relationship, organized in a logical and coherent manner, in a FRAMEWORK, and having team members who know how to use the right tonalities and inflections at the right places.
This style of communication is powerful! And this is really WHY the leads that go through this process are responsive and happy to take the next steps and speak with our account executives, and it’s all on one page – it’s not complicated at all!
I mean, what’s the alternative? Just get on the phone and wing it? And hope for the best?