First, let’s start with the real problem which is that most sales reps just don’t know how to really engage and talk to people. That’s really the bottom line. Most sales reps are more interested in pitching their products or services and don’t treat the people they are speaking with like people. A long time ago, my first sales manager gave me a great lesson in how to talk to and treat people. He said, “People are just people. They are just like you. They want to be respected, they want to be listened to, and they don’t want to be sold to. Show a real interest in them and treat them with kindness and you’ll go a long way…”
What’s so interesting, however, is that although this sounds so easy to do, for some reason, sales reps seem afraid to engage and ask questions of prospects because they think that as soon as they give them an opening they are going to get the door shut in their face. Most aren’t going to be interested – as we know – but many are. The way to deal with both of them is to learn how to engage and just talk to them.
Here are five tips and scripts that will help you get better at the crucial skill of relating to people so you don’t sound like a sales rep. Use these and you’ll soon find yourself way ahead of your competition. Here are some tips for working with gatekeepers:
1) Tip number one is to always, always use please and thank you – especially with gatekeepers. In fact, the more times you use the word please in your opening, “Hi, could I please speak with _________, please?” the more successful you’ll become. The more polite you are with the gatekeeper, the more polite and helpful they will be with you…
2) The second way to work with gatekeepers is to use the “I need a little bit of help please,” technique. The key to using this is that you have to stop here and wait for the other person to respond. You’d be surprised by how many people use this technique but combine it with, “I need to speak with the person who…”
This doesn’t work. This doesn’t engage the person on the other end of the phone. You absolutely must give the other person a chance to respond to you before you continue.
3) When you do get the decision maker on the phone, please, do not use that tired old phrase, “How are you today?” Nothing identifies you as a disinterested salesperson more than that worn out line. Instead, use this:
“Hi is that ________? Hi _________, this is _______ _______ with ___________, how’s your Monday (or day of the week) going so far?”
Now I know it sounds like the same thing but it is not. First, no one is saying it, and because you’re talking about the current day they are in, you can almost hear them think about their day and answer honestly. If they ask you how your Monday is going as well, always thank them for asking first before you move into your script.
Again, this may seem like a small technique, but it makes a BIG impact.
4) Introduce the reason you’re calling in as short of a time as possible and then ask them an engaging question. Most sales reps start their calls with a paragraph or two description and this is where the “speaking at” people comes in. Instead, mix your opening up with something like:
“__________, briefly, the reason I’m calling you is that I see on LinkedIn that you run an inside sales department and I was just wondering how often you work with outside trainers or consultants to help you improve your results?”
The key here is to get them involved in the conversation early – even if you fear a negative response. And ALWAYS hit your mute button and let them talk…
5) The last tip for today is to always be prepared for the objections you get with a scripted response that doesn’t challenge your prospect, but rather, that allows them to feel heard and respected. Here’s how you can handle the, “I’m not interested,” objection:
“No problem _________. Please realize that I’m not calling to sell you anything today, rather, I’m just calling to see if what we have might be a good fit for you and if I can help you down the line. Let me ask you….”
Do you see how this doesn’t push back on them? Using a response like this will get you much further than challenging them as so many sales reps still tend to do.
By using the above techniques (and developing many more), you’ll begin to actually have conversations with the people you speak with and you’ll differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other sales reps who are pitching and annoying them. This will make their day, and yours, much more enjoyable and profitable.