May 06, 2009

Please don’t ad lib on your prospecting calls

One of the things we struggle with is to convince salespeople of the need to write out what they plan to say before they pick up the phone to talk to a prospect.  That is not to suggest that the parroting of a script is going to make their calls any more successful.  However, it is clear that the act of planning and practicing in advance what they are going to say is vital to calming their nerves, as well as gaining their prospects interest.

In a world where poorly trained telemarketers have made life more difficult for us all, we much prefer to talk about using a conversation guide than a call script.   That simply means having what you believe to be the best way to communicate your proposition written out in front of you before you call, including how you will answer any questions, or objections you may encounter. No the objective is not to read it, just to have it to refer to as required.  Anyway once you have made a dozen calls what is on the paper will be so familiar that reading it won’t be necessary.

Please don’t ad lib, even though you feel you know your product back to front and can hold your own with any buyer.  It is not a conversation, although you might like to think it is.  The conversation will only come later, that is if you manage to rouse the prospect’s interest.  Your telephone call, on the other hand, is going to be short, shallow and quick – not the best environment for getting your traditional benefits and features rich message across.  In fact it could not be any further from the nature of a typical sales meeting. 

Your objective is to poke the prospect in the eye with the headline message of your proposition in a credible manner and see if he, or she is interested in finding out more.  Achieving that in a 2-3 minute phone call, where you have just over half the prospect's attention (the rest is on emails, tasks to be complete, etc.), is a major challenge and one that you won’t rise to unless you have a carefully crafted and rehearsed message at your side.

Another reason for having a conversation guide is that you can keep track of what works and what does not and enabling you to make constant revisions that reflect the changing interests of buyers and new angles in terms of your proposition.  It will also ensure a more scientific and systematic approach, allowing others to adopt a standard approach that has proven results.

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