Last week I was in Las Vegas presenting to a team of about 150 directors of inside sales and the subject was how they could to help their inside sales teams set more appointments. The problem their teams were having (and they are not unique in this way as many of you know through experience) was learning how to handle/bypass initial resistance and persevere through to getting their prospects to agree to an in house meeting. More specifically, the team was getting discouraged after one or two initial objections and giving up too soon.
To help them gain perspective on the importance of being persistent, I shared the following sales statistics with them:
48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
ONLY 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
In terms of prospecting and asking for the appointment, these statistics are extremely useful. What the directors were finding was that their reps were giving up long before the prospect was ready to say yes to the appointment. What we needed to do was to A) teach the reps how to effectively handle the initial resistance they were getting, and then B) teach them how to persevere long enough to keep asking for the appointment until the prospect said yes.
To teach the reps how to handle initial resistance, we developed a playbook of scripted responses that equipped the reps with effective ways of dealing with the objections they get over and over again. Knowing how to confidently handle these objections is the first step to teaching the reps how to persevere in the face of rejection.
The second step in persevering long enough to finally get a yes to setting the appointment was to teach the reps that it was not only OK to repeatedly get several no’s or objections, but that it was actually necessary to get them. In other words, we needed to train the reps that more no’s they get, the nearer they were to actually getting the appointment. And this is where the Bingo idea came in.
There are many ways that front line supervisors and managers can mentor and coach sales reps through prospecting and closing calls, but a new way of teaching them to actually look forward to getting no’s is to make a game of it using Bingo as the model.
As many of you know, the game of bingo is played by matching numbers that are drawn to a game card that contains 24 numbered spaces in a 5 x 5 grid. Once a player completes a ‘Bingo’ pattern, such as a line with five numbers in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal row on one of their cards, they win the game and or a prize. During the training, one of the directors had a great idea that would use the game of bingo to help their sales reps overcome their fear of getting rejected.
She said that she was going to put a bingo card together, but she was going to replace the numbers on the card with abbreviations of objections. For example, she would make one of the squares “NI” for “Not Interested” and “NM” for “No Money” and “SI” for “Just send some information.” Then she would pass out a card to each sales rep during their next scheduled call night, and she would instruct the rep to cross out one of the squares whenever they got the corresponding objection. The first one to complete a ‘Bingo’ pattern would win!
The brilliance of this idea is that by making getting objections or blow offs a game the reps will be trained to not only expect them, but also to look forward to getting them as well. In fact, because reps often get several objections per call, the practice of completing a bingo card will train the rep that the more times they ask for the appointment on the same call (and so get more objections) the more they will ‘win’ at the game. Oh, and the more times they win at bingo, the more times they will win by getting an appointment as well.
Teaching sales reps to persevere through the objections and stalls they get on calls will result in more confidence, less fear and call reluctance and, of course, more appointments and sales. And the great thing about using bingo to teach this is that reps suddenly get to ‘reframe’ what is usually a demoralizing experience into a game of chance. The more chances they take in using the rebuttal scripts and asking for the appointment, the more chances they have to win at the game of sales.
I thanked Jill for this great training idea, and each time I mentioned it to the next group of directors they liked it, too. If you are in charge of a group of inside sales reps – or if you are an inside sales rep and need some help in persevering through objections – then I encourage you to try this out as well. Remember, persistence overcomes resistance, so use the game of bingo to teach your reps how to persevere to get the appointment or the sale – or both!