Tag Archives: call guide

How Mr. Spock Would Plan and Prepare for a Follow Up Call

Mr. Spock, the venerable Vulcan from Star Trek would make a heck of a B2B telephone rep especially when it comes to making a follow up call to a prospect.

In many ways, a follow up call is more significant and critical than the initial cold call.  While the cold call may have initiated the sales cycle, the follow up call (or calls) completes it. It is here that the prospect turns into a customer … or at least takes another step down the path to becoming a customer.    Whether you are following up on a proposal or quote or webinar or whatever, making the most of the moment is the key to success.

Enter Spock.

Just in case you have never followed Star Trek,  Vulcans are a humanoid species that value and cherish logic above emotion.  They are trained from birth to think, analyze, and prepare for virtually every situation and event.  And that’s precisely why Spock would be magnificent with his follow up calls. His dedication to logic and planning would ensure a highly effective call and increase his chances for a sale.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be from another planet to be successful with your follow up. All you need to do is apply Spock-like principles to the planning and preparation of your call.  To help you with the process here is a downloadable call guide to get you thinking like a Vulcan.

Mr. Spock’s Tele-Prospecting Follow Up Call Guide

Spock’s tele-prospecting follow up guide is really nothing more than a job aid that you can use with each and every follow up call. It provides you with a 7-step process for organizing and planning your call.

1. Background Information and Assessment

The first step to a Spock-like call begins with a review of your last call to the prospect.  What was the key motivator that you uncovered? What were the hot buttons? Was there any personal information you can use to build rapport?  Note these items in the space provided on your guide.

Of course, all this really does is force you to pause and ponder.  It gets you to think before you dial. It takes only seconds but it will give you insights on how to proceed.

2. Objectives of the Call

It would not be logical for Spock to pick up the phone without having clearly defined objectives. Objectives force you to precisely determine what you want to achieve on the call.  Spock’s call guide forces you to prepare at least three objectives.

The prime objective (#1)  is the ultimate goal for that particular call. In a perfect world, this is THE NUMBER ONE thing you want to achieve.  In many cases, that objective is a sale but depending on the nature of the transaction, it might be something that moves the sale further through the cycle. Either way, it is definitively established.

But Spock’s approach  goes two steps further by getting you to establish at least two additional back up objectives. These are goals you would like to achieve in addition to the primary objective. Or they might goals you’d like to achieve if the primary goal is NOT met.  In other words, it is a means of salvaging the call should a sale or an advance not occur.

3. Opening Statement

Spock would never speak to the prospect without having prepared his opening statement because he would know that this is the most critical component toa follow up call. It is here, at this precise moment, that the prospect’s interest must be re-kindled and nurtured. Prospects are busy. They either forget what prompted them to agree to your follow up or, over  time, the sense of urgency has diminished.

Whatever the case may be, it is vital that you quickly bring the prospect up to speed to capture and keep their interest. Prepare your opener word for word and don’t wing it.

After introducing yourself and your company, take the prospect back to the prime motivator that was uncovered in the initial cold call AND the benefit that you could provide.  This gets the client engaged and actively listening! Secondly, provide an agenda of what you’d like to accomplish in the call. This primes the client for the remainder of the call. It creates focus and efficiency. For example,

“Hi Carson, It’s Mr. Spock calling from Trek Training.

Carson ,when we  last spoke on Monday you indicated that the average value of your sales were down and this was impacting your bottom line.  At that time I promised to send you some ideas on how add on selling training could help improve the average value of a sale by as much as 25%. I sent that on Tuesday.

What I’d like to do is explore your situation a little further,  review the proposal I sent and, if it makes sense, determine the next steps, if any, relative to training…”

4. Key Question, Key Points, Potential Objections

Bearing in mind your objectives, prepare three other elements to your follow up call.

First,  prepare a few ‘killer’ questions to gather more information and ‘build your case’ for a sale. Killer questions are those that get the prospect to THINK.  For instance, questions that get the prospect to quantify the ‘pain’ they’re experiencing . In turn, this magnifies the need for your solution.

Second, prepare a  list of 1-3 key selling points that support the solution that you’re offering.  Jotting these points down will  act as a prompt when you present.. It ensures you don’t forget!

Finally, Vulcans know all about contingency planning. Objections can derail your call in a New York minute.  Listing the typical objections that the prospect might toss helps ensure you’re not caught off guard.  It takes only seconds but it gets your mind oiled and greased.

5. Notes

Spock probably doesn’t need to take notes because he has a mind like a steel trap. But unless you have that Vulcan-like quality taking notes is a heck of a way to stay focused and to remember key points, objections or issues. Don’t argue. Just do it.

6. Actions Plans

Spock’s guide also provides space for you to list any actions that might ensue as a result of your call. Of course, a sale would be great but sometimes you need to take a few additional steps to move the cycle forward.  Whatever the case, note it.

7. Voice Mail Strategy

If Spock called and the prospect was not there at the appointed time,  he’d have his voice mail prepared and ready to go. He would not stutter and stumble and ramble about.  Do the same thing.

Summary

Spock’s call guide is not complex.  In fact, it is common sense.  Vulcans have common sense in abundance. Humans sales reps often don’t. Ultimately, the call guide creates a discipline process that trains your mind to thinking in a logical, step-by-step process. All it takes is a couple of minutes to complete. Peanuts.  Use this guide to provide structure, direction and focus. When you do, you’ll get better results.

Sell well and prosper!

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The Top 10 Things Every Field Rep Should Know About Tele-Prospecting

Many field reps are uncomfortable using the telephone when cold calling. Here are some tips to make the process of cold calling by phone easier and more effective.


1. It’s NOT a numbers game, it’s a results game

You’ll often hear this about cold calling especially from you boss: “It’s a numbers game.” Translated it means you have to make a zillion calls. No way. Don’t believe them.   Telephone cold calling is not about quantity, it’s about results.

Results come from smart tele-prospecting, not mindless dialing. Being smart means have the skills and techniques to make the most of the dials you make.  It means learning new processes and using job aids to convert more prospects into leads. It means being good at cold calling.

2. Use a verbal GPS (call guide)

A verbal GPS is a written ‘map’ to help guide your cold call.  Like a GPS, enter your destination (your primary objective), your starting point (your opening statement)  the sites you want to see along the way (your secondary objectives) and the route you want to take to get  there (your key questions, the key points you want to make).

Put this information on a green sheet of paper so that it sticks out on your desk or wall. Look at it before you call. Use it during the call to keep you on track. The mere process of writing these items down will increase you success rate by a minimum of 20%.

3. Script – yes, script- your opening statement

Most field reps would rather undergo a root canal than use a script. Instead of a script, field reps tend to ‘wing it’ and justify their behavior by saying, it sounds more ‘natural.’ The net result is that the cold call feels like a root canal.

If you were going to make dozens of cold calls to similar prospects regarding your products or services, why would you try to ‘wing’ it every time? Script your opening statement so you have the very best mix of words that entices the prospect to listen further.

4. Avoid Shooting Yourself in Both Feet by Avoiding these Killer Phrases

Cold calls quickly become lame when field sales reps inadvertently shoot themselves in both feet by using two killer phrases.  The first phrase is “How are you today?” In cold calling situations, the vast majority of prospects perceive this phase as trite and insincere. It instantly puts the prospect on guard; makes them skeptical and suspicious. Just eliminate it from your vocabulary.

The other killer phrase is “Did I catch you at a good time?” While polite, it gives your prospect a fast and easy way to ditch you. Instead, use this phrase, “If I caught you at a good time, what I would like to do is ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if we might be able to … (list a benefit).”  The prospect has the definite sense that permission was asked but the real question was not if he had the time but rather could questions be asked.” Big difference.

5. Know When and When NOT to Leave a Voice Mail – and Avoid Call Display

If you are never going to call this prospect again, leave a message. You have nothing to lose. Script – yes script- your message ahead of time and be prepared to leave it. If you are planning to recycle the list a few times, don’t leave a message. It warns them you’re coming. They use call display to screen your calls. Hang up. Take three or four shots at getting the client live.

6.  Anticipate Knee Jerk Objections

The majority of prospects are not sitting back and waiting for a call from a sales person. They are typically working and your call is an interruption. Many prospects will toss out an objection out of reflex not unlike what happens when a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer.

Here’s what to do. List the typical knee jerk objections on a sheet of paper so you’re not caught off guard. When you hear an objection follow the “EIA Process.” First, empathize. Next, ignore the objection completely. It’s not legitimate anyway. Third, calmly ask ‘one quick question.’  (Example:  Prospect: “I am busy right now.” Rep: “I understand completely…Brian, while I have you, one quick question: do you…)

Amazingly, over half the prospects will answer your question and most they will continue to answer additional questions simply because their reflexive reaction has settled down.

7.  Ruthless Disqualify Your Prospects

Have your key qualifying questions prepared and get to them right off the bat. You do this to determine if the prospect is worth YOUR time. If not, ruthlessly disqualify them and move on to greener pastures.

8.  Script- yes, again, script- your offer

For most sales reps, the offer is a request for an appointment. At this point in the sales cycle,  your product is the appointment.  Therefore, script your request for their time word for word.  Explain what the appointment will entail. Most importantly, list the benefit the client will get by granting you thirty or so minutes of time. By having this prepared ahead of time you won’t fumble the opportunity.

9.  Forget About Sending Literature

Prospects can make mince meat of your efforts by getting you to send, fax or e-mail literature. This smokescreen objection is a classic, if not polite, way to blow you off. Don’t fall for it. If you do agree to send marketing material, get commitment by asking for a specific follow up date and time (e.g., Thursday at 3:15). No date and time, no literature. Move on.

10. Make your call like an Academy Award Winner

The telephone is an audio medium.  Your tone, rate of delivery and volume of your voice accounts for about 80% of the message. Too fast, too slow, or too monotone will destroy your cold call in less than ten seconds. What this really means to you is that you need to practice your opening statement so that it flows naturally. You need to practice following your verbal GPS so you can transition your prospect through the call.  Practice your ‘offer’ as if you’re Brad or Angelina. Get your words and tone down pat. Do that and you’ll be a tele-prospecting star.

Summary

Telephone cold calling for field sales reps can be easier and more effective by simply bearing these ten tips in mind. Implement them and watch your success grow.

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To Script or Not to Script – Part III- The Solution

If you have been following the thread, the question is whether a tele-sales should ‘script’ a call or not.  One article argued the ‘pros’ of scripting and other argued the ‘cons.’  Okay, then, what’s the solution?

It’s simple. Create a hybrid. Take the best of both worlds. Combine the good of a script and toss out the bad.The trick is to use “scripts’ in certain key parts of the call.

Opening Statements

The opening statement should be scripted. Think about it: your reps are making sixty cold calls per day to the same target market. This part of the call should never have to change because your initial message should be the same from call to call. Scripting the opening statement creates a call standard.  It creates a consistent message that can be coached and supported by you. Best of all, if your reps are using the same opener you can start to test variations and figure out what works best in garnering the client’s attention.

Questioning?

Questioning, on the other hand, is something that cannot be scripted. Oh sure, you can have a list of questions that should be asked but once questioning begins the client can take you all over the map. Your rep needs the flexibility to move where the conversation goes. He needs to “think out of the box.” Don’t script questioning.

Exceptions to the Rule:  Like in grammar, there are always exceptions. If you have certain qualifying questions, script them.  This ensures you are asking the right questions.

Voice Mail

Voice mails can and should be scripted.

There are a couple of reasons. First, a well crafted voice mail leaves a positive impression with a prospect. Babbling about like a brook does not.  Second, scripting a voice mail allow you to test variations.  Some voice mail messages will out pull others.

Offers/Presentations

If you are using offers as part of the selling process, they can and should be scripted. The offer typically doesn’t change so why change the words? If you allow too much flexibility and free form at this stage you’ll discover that sometimes your reps are eloquent and sometimes they sound like the village idiot. Don’t risk it. The offer is the ultimate hook. Make it a standard, coach to it and watch it work. Or test it. Get half your sales team to present the offer in one manner and get the other half to present the offer in another.

When providing a solution in a complex sale, your rep will likely need to have the flexibility of  tailoring the message to a particular client. This is hard to script.  A call guide can be used to craft a message that provides the client with key features supported by clear explanations and topped off with a benefit or two.

To create your call guide, use bullet points on a sheet of paper to list the features, explanations and benefits. This creates a consistency in your message but allow a degree of flexibility so that the words do not sound ‘read’ and so that the rep can inject a degree of personality.

Objections?

Objections are a more troublesome. The problem is smokescreens: i.e., false objections. For instance, you can have all the right words and phrases to deal with a price objection but if that’s just an excuse to get rid of the rep, then a script doesn’t help, it hinders. Instead, you can develop a ‘call guide” for handling objections. A call guide is a process for a given situation. For example, you could teach your reps a 4 steps process to handling an objection (emphasize, verify/isolate, respond and confirm) which would give you structure of a script but the flexibility of free form.

Closing

Script the close. You can have 10 different scripted closing lines if you want but you must ensure that the sales rep uses ONE of them.  If you do that, you increase the chances that the sale will close. Why? Because a scripted close or two can be memorized, mastered and delivered flawlessly. The rep is less likely to waffle when it is time to close; less likely to forget.

Summary

The fact of the matter is this: most B to B tele-sales departments typically don’t use scripting in the management of their calls. They give their reps license to do as they please because of the negative perceptions about scripts. Rest assured, sales and opportunities are being lost because a modicum of structure is not being applied. Script certain key parts of your call and you’ll have added a degree of ‘science’ to the ‘art’ of selling.

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To Script or Not to Script – Part II – 5 Reasons to Love Scripts

The Case for a Script

Scripts are not necessarily evil when it comes to selling. On the contrary, there are some profound benefits to scripting. Here are just five:

1. Creates Consistency

A script ensures that “everyone is singing from the same hymn book.”  In turn, consistency helps ensure call quality. This gives you peace of mind that your client base is hearing the same thing from all reps all of the time.

2. Shortens the learning curve

A script is easy to learn. Plunk it down on paper and you have a training document. In short order, your rep can be on the phone making calls and making money.

3. Reduces call lengths and increases productivity

A well written script gets rid of useless clutter that often accompanies a sales call. Because it is focused and structured, it gets to the point more quickly; messages are more succinct and better understood.  This efficiency can carve seconds or even minutes off a call. Multiple those by the volume of calls and the number of reps and you have economies of scale.

4. Provides a Standard by which you can coach

But perhaps one of the most significant benefits of a script is that it creates a standard by which a manager can coach. A standard is specific way something should be said or delivered. If a rep knows precisely what is expected, it becomes easier to support it through coaching and coaching is the key to sustained sales results.

5. Allows you to test

Finally, one of the strongest features of scripting is that it allows you to test various components of a call. For example, you could create two or three opening statements and test one against the other to determine which gets the higher response rate. You can do the same thing with offers.  Does offer A out pull offer B?  Because you can control the variables of a call, you can isolate and test one component at a time. In this manner you can determine the best mix of words to get the highest return on investment.

Summary

Thou provideth a puzzle. Which dost thou choose? Seeth Part III.  (My apologies to Shakespeare and the English language. I just couldn’t resist)!

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To Script or Not to Script – Part I – 4 Reasons to Really Hate Scripts

To borrow from Shakespeare: to script or not to script, that is the question.

In the world of B to B tele-sales and tele-prospecting, minor wars have been raged on whether or not to script the call.  There are those who love scripts and they have some compelling arguments to support their claim.  Others would rather chew off a body part than script a call and have some rather convincing reasons in their favor.

The truth is scripts can work for and against you. Knowing how and when to use them or avoid them is the key to better sales results. Regardless of where you sit on the scripting fence, here is a definitive look at scripts and the ultimate solution to help you maximize your calling opportunities.

The Case Against the Script

1. Scripts Lack Flexibility

Because scripts are highly structured, it assumes your client based is a homogenous mass that thinks, acts and responds in the same manner. You know and I know that just isn’t true. Certainly in a B to B setting, a script tends to lack the flexibility that is needed in a client dialog.  A sales rep has to be able to react and respond to the client depending on the situation and circumstances.  Scripts don’t allow that and that severely limits their effectiveness.

2. It Sounds Canned

For the most part, scripts tend to sound ‘canned:’ awkward, stiff, stilted, insincere, mechanical, belabored, rote, bored, lacking conviction and the list goes on. Unless your sales rep is a particularly good actor who can call effectively delivery his lines, the script rarely comes off as natural.  Your clients pick this up immediately. They don’t have the time or the inclination to suffer through a droning pitch.  Put more simply, prospect know when a script is being read and don’t like it.  And rarely do they buy.

3. It Burns Out Reps

Look at a script from your sales rep’s perspective. In fact, why not give it a try yourself. Recite a script thirty or forty times a day, five days a week and four weeks a month and you’ll clearly understand the impact it has on your rep. Mind numbing repetition will frustrate your reps in record time which leads to burnout which leads to turnover. And that costs you money.

4. Dependency

Once a script is in place and up and running, sales reps become hooked or dependent on them. It becomes difficult if not impossible for them to think out of the box when the client doesn’t follow the script you’ve set. They recite; they don’t think.  Of course what this really means is that you can and will lose selling opportunities.

Summary

So scripts are evil and nasty things in the world of tele-sales, right?

Well, maybe not.

Check out Part II of this series: 5 Reasons to Love Scripts

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The Top 10 Things Every Field Rep Should Know About Making Telephone Cold Calling

Many field reps are uncomfortable using the telephone when cold calling. Here are some tips to make the process of cold calling by phone easier and more effective.

1. It’s NOT a numbers game, it’s a results game

You’ll often hear this about cold calling especially from you boss: “It’s a numbers game.” Translated it means you have to make a zillion calls. No way. Don’t believe them.   Telephone cold calling is not about quantity, it’s about results.

Results come from smart tele-prospecting, not mindless dialing. Being smart means have the skills and techniques to make the most of the dials you make.  It means learning new processes and using job aids to convert more prospects into leads. It means being good at cold calling.

2. Use a verbal GPS (call guide)

A verbal GPS is a written ‘map’ to help guide your cold call.  Like a GPS, enter your destination (your primary objective), your starting point (your opening statement)  the sites you want to see along the way (your secondary objectives) and the route you want to take to get  there (your key questions, the key points you want to make).

Put this information on a green sheet of paper so that it sticks out on your desk or wall. Look at it before you call. Use it during the call to keep you on track. The mere process of writing these items down will increase you success rate by a minimum of 20%.

3. Script – yes, script- your opening statement

Most field reps would rather undergo a root canal than use a script. Instead of a script, field reps tend to ‘wing it’ and justify their behavior by saying, it sounds more ‘natural.’ The net result is that the cold call feels like a root canal.

If you were going to make dozens of cold calls to similar prospects regarding your products or services, why would you try to ‘wing’ it every time? Script your opening statement so you have the very best mix of words that entices the prospect to listen further.

4. Avoid Shooting Yourself in Both Feet by Avoiding these Killer Phrases

Cold calls quickly become lame when field sales reps inadvertently shoot themselves in both feet by using two killer phrases.  The first phrase is “How are you today?” In cold calling situations, the vast majority of prospects perceive this phase as trite and insincere. It instantly puts the prospect on guard; makes them skeptical and suspicious. Just eliminate it from your vocabulary.

The other killer phrase is “Did I catch you at a good time?” While polite, it gives your prospect a fast and easy way to ditch you. Instead, use this phrase, “If I caught you at a good time, what I would like to do is ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if we might be able to … (list a benefit).”  The prospect has the definite sense that permission was asked but the real question was not if he had the time but rather could questions be asked.” Big difference.

5. Know When and When NOT to Leave a Voice Mail – and Avoid Call Display

If you are never going to call this prospect again, leave a message. You have nothing to lose. Script – yes script- your message ahead of time and be prepared to leave it. If you are planning to recycle the list a few times, don’t leave a message. It warns them you’re coming. They use call display to screen your calls. Hang up. Take three or four shots at getting the client live.

6.  Anticipate Knee Jerk Objections

The majority of prospects are not sitting back and waiting for a call from a sales person. They are typically working and your call is an interruption. Many prospects will toss out an objection out of reflex not unlike what happens when a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer.

Here’s what to do. List the typical knee jerk objections on a sheet of paper so you’re not caught off guard. When you hear an objection follow the “EIA Process.” First, empathize. Next, ignore the objection completely. It’s not legitimate anyway. Third, calmly ask ‘one quick question.’  (Example:  Prospect: “I am busy right now.” Rep: “I understand completely…Brian, while I have you, one quick question: do you…)

Amazingly, over half the prospects will answer your question and most they will continue to answer additional questions simply because their reflexive reaction has settled down.

7.  Ruthless Disqualify Your Prospects

Have your key qualifying questions prepared and get to them right off the bat. You do this to determine if the prospect is worth YOUR time. If not, ruthlessly disqualify them and move on to greener pastures.

8.  Script- yes, again, script- your offer

For most sales reps, the offer is a request for an appointment. At this point in the sales cycle,  your product is the appointment.  Therefore, script your request for their time word for word.  Explain what the appointment will entail. Most importantly, list the benefit the client will get by granting you thirty or so minutes of time. By having this prepared ahead of time you won’t fumble the opportunity.

9.  Forget About Sending Literature

Prospects can make mince meat of your efforts by getting you to send, fax or e-mail literature. This smokescreen objection is a classic, if not polite, way to blow you off. Don’t fall for it. If you do agree to send marketing material, get commitment by asking for a specific follow up date and time (e.g., Thursday at 3:15). No date and time, no literature. Move on.

10. Make your call like an Academy Award Winner

The telephone is an audio medium.  Your tone, rate of delivery and volume of your voice accounts for about 80% of the message. Too fast, too slow, or too monotone will destroy your cold call in less than ten seconds. What this really means to you is that you need to practice your opening statement so that it flows naturally. You need to practice following your verbal GPS so you can transition your prospect through the call.  Practice your ‘offer’ as if you’re Brad or Angelina. Get your words and tone down pat. Do that and you’ll be a tele-prospecting star.

Summary

Telephone cold calling for field sales reps can be easier and more effective by simply bearing these ten tips in mind. Implement them and watch your success grow.

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