How much time does your client currently have for you? The answer is: even less than before. To be effective, you have to be able to beat out everything else that might distract them: other activities, priorities, meetings, emails, notifications, and so on. How can you get the client to put all that aside and listen to you?
Any conversation can be effective, as long as you remember a few important things. First of all, you need to understand that the client isn’t waiting for your call, that they receive at least a few similar calls every day, or generally doesn’t have time to talk. That means you have to be energetic and professional right off the bat, so the client doesn’t just hang up the phone.
Alright - salespeople ask - but if I’m supposed to be bursting with enthusiasm, should I be using a script? Absolutely, because first of all, using a script helps you keep the conversation on track (especially when you tend to talk about yourself too much) and secondly, the script reminds you of the goal you’re trying to accomplish. The key is to use it logically, not to read it word-for-word. Know your script well, personalise it, find your own way to use it. That way, the client will feel like there’s someone on the other side who is willing to listen.
The first obstacle and an unusual opening
It is not about any cheap tricks like Hello, I’m pleased to inform you that you’ve won ... or How is it that we’ve never worked together before?, but about something that will be surprising yet humanising. Paradoxically, the objections that the client may raise at the beginning of the conversation, for example, I don’t have time or I don’t want to talk, can help you. If that’s really true, then of course you won’t make it very far, but there’s nothing stopping you from thinking outside the box and asking the client for some of their time. Instead of the standard question: I understand, but could you give me five minutes?, you could say: I understand. What I’m asking is that you sacrifice 1:17 to our conversation. When you ask like that, you usually take the client by surprise, increasing the chance they’ll decide to listen to you. By thinking outside the box, you have a chance to be different, and thus get past the first obstacle.
It’s not about you
Once you reach the person you want to talk to, remember that you will have about 15 seconds to convince them to listen further. At this stage, salespeople often make the mistake of talking about themselves, their products, their company, or their successes. Nobody likes arrogance or self-centredness, so the client will usually try to end the call as quickly as possible. Why? That’s because a conversation all about you doesn’t take into account the client or their perspectives. Yes, it’s important that the client learn something about you and the company, but you can provide this information later or in a different form, for example by sending an email confirming what you’ve arranged.
So what would the client like to hear about? About themselves, and about what the conversation can offer them. That’s why you should show the client an advantage that will be attractive to them in the very first sentence after you introduce yourself.
Hello, this is Peter Novak, I’m calling from the XYZ consulting firm. I’ve called you because I’ve seen a strong increase in your competitors’ marketing activities, and I know how to help your salespeople work more effectively with clients.
Hello, I’m calling from the XYZ consulting firm. My name is Peter Novak, and I am a sales trainer. I know that you probably have several of these calls a day, but I’d like to offer a solution that will help salespeople who can’t visit clients directly due to the pandemic continue to sell at a decent level. As I have observed, it’s quite a problem for them.
It’s important to properly define the problems that your clients are facing before the interview, because by referencing them, you’ll show the client that you understand their situation and that you’re the right person to help them solve their problem. Creating benefits for the client will then be much easier, which will further increase the chance that the client will want to continue listening to you.