When potential clients get on the phone with any organization about any product or service from any industry, it’s almost like they’re bracing themselves for a fight because they’re in a heightened emotional state. They need help with something and they don’t know where to turn, so they turn to google.
They search, find your website, submit a request to be contacted (or call in directly), and since they’re in a heightened emotional state, they’ll regularly come out swinging with questions about pricing while demanding quotes and sharpshooting with tons of in-depth questions, all within the first :90 seconds.
And all this has to do with how humans are essentially hardwired to perceive most new information as threats and new people as foes, so these questions about pricing and quotes, at this point in the relationship, are merely smokescreens, because what they’re really trying to do is find answers to these TWO BIG QUESTIONS:
- Can you actually help me get whatever it is that I’m after?
- Do you represent an organization that I can trust?
So, the process I developed is geared more towards not getting caught up in the the surface-level stuff of products and pricing and it gets at the under-the-surface, emotional currents. It’s neuroscientifically designed to go inline with how the brain prefers to receive and process information, instead of going against it.
I’ve said this many times in training sessions and meetings, and I truly believe this: “I’m not really concerned with what a potential client KNOWS about my company after that first phone call … that first interaction; I’m concerned with how they feel.”
So yes, we gather and share high-level information on the qualifying calls, but realistically, what we’re doing is, is we’re:
- taking charge of the situation without being abrasive (Intro and Agenda Statement + Advanced Tonality)
- getting potential clients to calm down (by using “tactical empathy” and hearing them out)
- we’re calmly and clearly articulating what the potential client can expect next (we literally describe the hand-off process which sets up the next step in the process)
All of this slows everything down and buys our account executives some time so they can be as strategically prepared as possible for when they step up to the plate. My team (and this process), figuratively speaking, is what takes that pitch and alters its path to make it go right down the middle at a speed that makes it possible for the sales rep to consistently crush it. The next step, often times, is still taken the same day, but it’s a much more comfortable experience for everyone involved because no one is put on the spot – no one is caught off guard.
There’s no pressure on the potential clients with this method, and in turn, this reduces their naturally-occurring, fear-based sales resistance. They willingly move to the next step in the process, and we hear it all the time how they’re looking forward to it.
There is a script / framework for this, but you have to understand that the words are 7% of it – 93% is how it’s all organized and delivered. If you jumped on the phone and ran through the “What Comes Next” part of the script a minute-and-a-half after the call starts, the words carry no weight.
What gives this part of the script its weight is you taking charge without being abrasive on the “Intro and Agenda Statement,” then hearing them out during the “Vital Signs” section where you’re asking strategically-sequenced questions and gathering high-level information.
All of that can take merely five or six minutes, too, so it’s not a long, drawn-out conversation by any means. It’s just that when people feel like they’ve been heard out, they instinctively feel compelled to reciprocate and hear you out. This is how you make those words mean something. This is how you get potential clients to really pay attention and take you seriously, versus just blowing through some words on a script.
This type of experience is really music to the ears of a serious buyer, too.
Now, I don’t pitch this as a magic bullet for your sales process, or anything, either. Some products or services will need slight variations to this, but if your organization offers customized solutions, then I know this model will work for you.
If you’re more of a business-to-consumer, commodity, one-and-done type of business? Maybe not!
But seriously, what’s the alternative?
You get a live potential customer on the phone, blow through a few high-level questions to qualify him or her, then force a warm-transfer to a sales person who may or may not be ready to take a call? No thanks!
Sales people are busy and time is one of their most precious commodities. I probably could write a small business book about this marketing to sales hand-off topic, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll leave you with this:
How many opportunities do you think are blown out there in the business world every day by people warm-transferring leads for the sake of speed?
Here’s a few realistic outcomes:
- the lead gets the sales rep’s voicemail – leaves a message, then never hears back because there’s a hundred other messages on the rep’s voicemail box
- the sales rep takes the call and immediately reschedules it because he or she is in the middle of working on a proposal that he’s / she’s presenting in 45 minutes
- something about the way the sales rep came across rubs the lead the wrong way and causes him or her to go dark
- sales rep calls at the appointed time, leaves a voicemail, sends an email, never hears from the lead again
- sales rep takes the call but was getting ready to leave for an appointment, sounds super-distracted during the call, doesn’t really listen or take notes and doesn’t set a follow-up appointment
The Marketing to Sales Hand-off that I’ve developed heads ALL OF THIS OFF, which will help your organization maximize every opportunity.