Sales Smarts: Sound different than typical salesperson

David had spent the weekend crafting and reworking his telephone prospecting script. Finally, he had perfected it, two pages of well-thought-out dialogue including answers to any question the prospect may ask or any objection that might come up. Regardless of what the prospect said, he was ready to start making sales. He even tried it out on one of the other salespeople Sunday night. The other salesperson loved it and asked for a copy of it for themselves.

Getting into work early on Monday, David sat down to start dialing. Good luck: on the very first call, right through the gatekeeper to the president of the company. “Hello, this is Anita Taylor. What can I do for you?” It was at that point that David realized that he had forgotten to bring his perfected script up on his monitor. Total panic set in. “Hello, this is Anita Taylor .. .is anyone there?” repeated the president.

“Uh, this is David from uh, from Butler & Co.,” he replied, feeling his stomach turning. There was dead silence on both ends for about five seconds. Not being able to remember a single line from his script, David just plunged on. “Anita, it doesn’t sound like you know me.” More silence. David just wanted to hang up the phone. “Don’t think I do. Have we talked before?” As David heard the question, “Have we talked before?”, he actually felt himself gaining control.

“Uh, I don’t think we have, why … OK, if I take a minute here to tell you why I reached out, we can see if it makes any sense to keep on talking?” David then waited. “Sure, go ahead. Tell me a bit, and we’ll go from there.” Four minutes later, David had his first appointment.

David could not find the script and as a result, was forced to stumble through. Here’s the important question to answer: Was David invited to talk to the president, or did David force the president to listen?

What is the typical prospecting script like? We’ve all heard it a million times. “Hi, my name is … I represent … I’m going to be in your area on … I’d like to stop by and . . .” There are some variations, but this is the standard monologue. That’s the key word—monologue. The person being called doesn’t have much, if any, chance to do anything but sit back and take it. Who likes getting these trite and cliché telemarketing calls?

You immediately know it’s a salesperson. You immediately know that any response you make will have a comeback. You immediately know that whatever you were doing before the call has suddenly become of utmost importance, even if it was just staring out the window. “This pest on the phone just interrupted me, and I’m going to get them off the phone as quickly as I can. This flashed through most people’s mind instantly as they accidentally take the routine cold call.

One of the major reasons why a salesperson despises telephone prospecting is the fear that they will interrupt the person they are calling. The truth is, they will. In the example above, the prospect has no idea what the call is about. At this moment, the prospect has no idea whether this call is important or not.

Instead of launching into his script, David reacts unlike the typical salesperson and stumbles into an excellent response. He identifies himself and gives the company name. Then, not knowing what else to say, he says nothing.

Again, the prospect has no idea what this call is about. For all he knows, Butler & Co. could be a new or existing customer reaching out. So what does the prospect do? She needs more information. She invites David to talk. Or, to put it another way, David has now received permission to interrupt the prospect’s day. Now, even if David launches into the typical call script, his chance of being heard has improved 100 percent.

Being “invited” to share what you called to talk about puts you in a much better position in a prospecting call. Forcing the prospect to listen to your routine pitch puts them in control. Which scenario would you prefer the next time you sit down to make prospecting calls?

Bob Bolak is president of Sandler Training. He can be reached at 303-579-1939 or bbolak@sandler.com