This blog post was written by Art Sobczak. Visit his web site at www.businessbyphone.com or check out his #1 selling book Smart Calling.
When prospecting, even if you do everything I suggest in Smart Calling, point-by-point perfectly, and deliver what you feel is a tailored, value-packed opening statement, you will still get people who respond with some variation of “I’m not interested,” or, “We’re happy with what we’re doing.”
Expect it. Don’t be deterred by it. And prepare for it.
Resistance after hearing an opening statement from an unknown caller is a natural, conditioned reaction for many people. And it usually works in attempts to blow sales reps off the phone. Except you, of course; because you’ll have some conversational ways to get the prospect talking, which really is the key to keeping the call alive, and creating an opportunity.
Resistant Reflex Responses
I have a name for these kinds of inherent reactions that sales calls tend to elicit from prospects: Resistant Reflex Responses (RRR’s).
They simply are a natural reflex for many people; like ducking if an object is flying at your head. It’s instinctive. Not much thought goes into them; they just happen.
Trying to counter them with logic is tough, since, well, what would you be arguing against? We haven’t heard anything of substance yet other than the response.
And you don’t want to use a goofy retort that some sales books suggest: “Well of course you aren’t interested, I haven’t given you anything to be interested in yet!” Give me a break.
So what should you do?
Get them talking — which moves their mind away from their reflexive response and on to something of substance.
Use a “Pattern Interrupt”
A model of communication called Neuro Linguistic Programming that was popularized by many self-help gurus over the past 20 years (most notably Tony Robbins) espouses a theory and technique called a “pattern interrupt.” Without causing your eyes to glaze over in boredom, let me simplify it for our purposes:
When people do or say something automatically, it’s called a pattern. If you do something that stops that pattern and gets them talking or thinking about something else, then that is a pattern interrupt. In what city were you born?
That last question was a pattern interrupt. You were reading along, and I interrupted you with a question that likely caused you to think about the answer. (Or wonder if I had gone off the deep end.) Either way, using a pattern interrupt when you hear a Resistant Reflex Response, causes someone to answer a question.
Prospect: “I’m not interested.”
Sales rep: “I see. Where are you now getting your compressors?”
Prospect: “We’re all set.”
Sales rep: “I understand. When is your next project coming up?”
Prospect: “We wouldn’t need that.”
Sales rep: “Oh. How are you now handling written-off receivables?”
This is not difficult to execute. You simply need to anticipate the RRRs you are likely to hear, or if you have placed calls for more than a day, you already know which ones you hear. Then you prepare your response.
Your tone plays a vital role in determining the success of your reply. Use a soft, almost surprised-maybe even disappointed–tone of voice.
By no means do you want to seem confrontational. We want them to open up and drop their shield — not feel threatened.
You might think that you’re likely to hear something like, “Look, what part of I’m not interested do you not understand?” after your response; and you would be right. This certainly won’t work every time; nothing does. However, you may at least be able to salvage some opportunities that you would not have gotten otherwise; possible sales you can cash in on either now or in the future. Your return on your tiny time investment is huge, and you have nothing to lose.
The Softening Statement
You might have noticed that before asking the question in each of the examples above, I used a few words such as “Oh,” “I see,” and “I understand” to diffuse tension and soften the question. I suggest you do the same.
Fellow sales trainer and founder of the prospecting system “Unlock the Game™” Ari Galper suggests a great softening statement: “That’s not a problem.” Then he recommends diffusing the tension with something like, “I’m not trying to replace your current vendor. Would you be open to some different ideas that you might not be using now?”
Encountering early resistance is a natural part of prospecting. Understanding it is not a real objection, and being prepared to respond will result in more opportunities for you.
Perhaps the most noted expert in the world of B2B tele-sales training in North America (and beyond) Art Sobczak is president of Business by Phone (www.businessbyphone.com) Art has been a friend, golf partner, mentor, publisher and BBQ buddy for over 26 years. Visit his web site, sign up for his newsletter, buy his books … his stuff is the best.