4 Tactics to Improve Your Sales Calls and Crush Quota
Social media outlets like LinkedIn are the hot talk of sales, but when you want the sale, a phone call is still the way to go.
We have four expert sales techniques that will boost your sales conversations, make you more productive, and reduce the need for follow-up calls.
Don’t Waste Your Time on “Tire Kickers”
Have you ever gone to a dealership just to look at cars and maybe kill some time? Then some salesperson walks up and follows you around like a lost puppy dog. You don’t really want them there, but you pretend to be interested just to humor them.
You know they’re wasting their time, but do they?
The same sort of thing happens in other types of sales as well. Maybe your prospect is comparison shopping or “just curious.”
Here’s the secret of sales reps who close deals and crush quota: don’t waste your time with tire kickers. That salesperson stalking you around the lot would better spend their time qualifying other potential customers or cold calling to build their pipeline.
If you get the sense that someone isn’t a serious buyer, push for a resolution, and if you don’t get to the next step, move on to another prospect. If they’re interested, they’ll call back.
BowTiedSalesGuy offers a script you can use with tire kickers:
🐲: Oh.. so I get the feeling you’re more curious than committed at this point.
Prospect: We’re just interested to see what’s out there.
🐲: Got it.. so even if you saw something you liked you wouldn’t commit to anything today?
Prospect: Yeah, we’re not ready to make any decisions at this point.
🐲: Fair enough, thanks for being up front.
Be firm but polite. Every minute you spend with a tire kicker is costing you a commission.
Qualify Your Leads More Efficiently
It’s amazing how many reps don’t qualify their potential customers during the first sales call. In theory, this is what Sales Development Representatives should be doing.
Still, many Account Executives get too far into the sales call process before they hear the dreaded: “I’ll have to talk to my boss to see if we’re interested.”
Why aren’t you talking to the decision-maker? Qualifying your leads upfront is essential, and it doesn’t have to take a ton of time.
TextExpander is an automation tool that dramatically speeds up data entry and lets you create custom forms and scripts, so your team members always stay on message. But it can also act as an interactive script for sales calls and let you add clean, consistent notes to Close CRM.
While on a qualifying call, click into a note field and type close.qualify
You’re presented with this window with fill-ins that guide your qualifying call:
Click OK, and TextExpander adds the qualifying information to your lead notes, so on the next call, you know for sure that the lead is qualified.
This helps your sales team spend less time filling out forms and more time on outreach and the most important thing: earning a commission.
Control the Frame
Oren Klaff’s Pitch Anything is a must-read for sales professionals. The first step in a successful pitch is controlling the conversation’s frame.
Frame is a tough thing to define. Think of it like the wooden frame of a house. The frame is not the house, but it defines what the house ultimately looks like. Klaff offers a much lengthier definition:
Frames are cognitive shortcuts that people use to help make sense of complex information. Frames help us to interpret the world around us and represent that world to others. They help us organize complex phenomena into coherent, understandable categories.
When we label a phenomenon, we give meaning to some aspects of what is observed, while discounting other aspects because they appear irrelevant or counter-intuitive. Thus, frames provide meaning through selective simplification, by filtering people's perceptions and providing them with a field of vision for a problem.
Imagine a piece of cheese with a strong smell. One person might frame it negatively:
“This cheese stinks.”
Someone else might frame the cheese more positively:
“This cheese has a complex bouquet.”
Someone in a conversation controls the frame, whether you realize it or not, and whoever controls the frame controls the conversation. Frames are like rock-paper-scissors because you can use one frame to counter an opposing frame.
Klaff outlines four types of basic frames to know:
- Power Frame: This frame is all about establishing raw dominance. Often this is accomplished with what Klaff calls “beta traps,” which are power moves meant to strip you of status. A classic example is an executive who makes you sit in the lobby for an hour after your appointment.
- Prize Frame: In this frame, you set yourself up as a prize to be won, and it can counter the Power Frame. Think of it like playing hard to get. For example, you might ask a prospect, “Why should we sell to you?”
- Time Frame: With this frame, you establish that your time is precious and limited. For instance, you might start a call with, “Hey, I only have 10 minutes here, let’s get rolling.”
- Analyst Frame: While the Power Frame is about raw power, the Analyst Frame is about raw data, and it’s a hard frame to break. The key is to have an intriguing story lined up that pushes the analyst out of their calculating right brain and into their creative left brain.
A trick you can start practicing on tomorrow’s first call: take an index card. On one side, write “my frame.” On the other, write “their frame.”
While on the call, be mindful of who has the frame and flip the card over accordingly. This will help train your brain to be conscious of frames.
Identify and Press the Pain Points
The key to closing a sale is to identify a prospect's pain points and make them realize how your product addresses them. There’s a time-tested method to do that.
Neil Rackham's book SPIN Selling is a classic, and it walks you through the process of identifying your prospect’s needs and addressing them. It’s the opposite of a sales pitch: if performed correctly, the prospect pitches you.
SPIN stands for the types of questions you need to ask on a sales call and the order they should be asked:
- Situation: First, you gather some basic information to establish their situation. “Which tools do you currently use?” The key here, and in all of the steps, is to actively listen to develop your next questions and talking points.
- Problem: Next, you process the information from the situation questions and ask about potential problems that can reveal pain points. “Does this process ever fail?”
- Implication: Once you’ve uncovered the problems, it’s time to identify the pain points that your solution solves. “What’s the productivity cost when the process fails?”
- Need-Payoff: Here is where you make the sale. Not with a pitch but by gently guiding the prospect to drawing their own conclusions.
Here’s a simplified example of this in the style of the SPIN Selling book:
TextExpander: “What CRM do you currently use?” (Situation)
Prospect: “We use Close.”
TextExpander: “That’s a good one. We use that ourselves. Does your sales team spend a lot of time entering data like contact information and sales notes?” (Problem)
Prospect: “Yes, our sales team spends 30 hours per week just on contact information and notes.”
TextExpander: “And does that cost you sales?” (Implication)
Prospect: “Absolutely! I wish we had that time back to hit the phones!”
TextExpander: “What if you could cut that time in half?” (Need-Payoff)
Prospect: “We would have a fuller pipeline and more time to close deals!”
TextExpander: “And would that generate more revenue?” (Need-Payoff)
Prospect: “Yeah, we could do a lot with an extra 15 hours per week.”
Of course, we all know real sales calls are never this smooth in real life, but SPIN Selling is a powerful and time-tested technique. If performed well, the prospect practically sells the product themselves.
Better Sales Calls = More Sales
Sales calls are one of the most effective tools in a salesperson’s tool belt. However, there’s a good chance your sales team is wasting valuable time talking to prospects who aren’t the right fit or have no intention of making a purchase.
By focusing on the right prospects and finding ways to streamline the note-taking process, reps will have more time to focus on what really matters—closing deals.
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