Excerpt from The Sales Playbook. David I Hill
“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden, They Call Me Coach
As a salesperson, you’re not only selling products or services, you’re selling YOU. Customers are buying the experience of working with you as an individual. Your positive attitude, sparkling personality, trustworthy demeanor, or however else you present yourself.
Using the phone will give you an advantage in bringing your personality front and center. When done well, you can make an instant connection with prospects. When done poorly, you’ll hear a click.
Research has shown that people only have seven seconds to make a first impression. In that short amount of time, you can be perceived positively or negatively, and it’s hard to switch camps after that.
When meeting in person, it can be hard to gauge whether you’re making a good first impression, since people won’t usually turn and walk away from you abruptly if they aren’t satisfied after seven seconds. But it’s a different story on the phone. People can hang up without feeling overly guilty or awkward, and you won’t even have a chance of redeeming yourself after a bad first impression.
Here are some of my top tips for connecting and connecting fast.
Mirror and Match
Although people can appreciate a wide variety of personalities, it’s usually easiest to bond with others who are similar to you. Think about your group of friends, and even the coworkers you would consider as your friends.
The same is true in sales. The best way to gain rapport with prospects is to be like them. Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying you should become someone you’re not. I’m simply saying you should adjust your approach depending on whom you’re talking to. Chances are, you do this already. The conversation you have with your buddies is probably not the same conversation you’d have with your 80-year-old neighbor. This is the same approach you should take on the phone with prospects. The challenge is homing in on your prospects’ personalities and interests when you’ve never met them before, and getting good enough at it to very quickly build rapport. About seven seconds quickly. Luckily, there are a variety of cues you can look for that will help you mirror and match:
Pace: The rate or pace in which people speak says a lot about their personality and mood. A slower pace could show prospects aren’t in a hurry, or they have a laid back attitude. It could also tell you they are analytical and listening to all the details. A faster pace could show a no-nonsense direct and to-the-point personality, or that someone is in a rush.
Mood: If your prospect is in a bad mood, you shouldn’t try to mirror it. But in other cases, it’s helpful to show you’re on the same level. When prospects are enthusiastic and friendly, you should kick those emotions up a notch.
Language: Using similar language sends a message that you are like the other person; that you have similar perspectives and possibly a similar background. Whether or not this is true, it makes people feel comfortable talking to you and opening up.
Greeting: One of the easiest ways to mirror prospects is by matching their answer to the question, “How are you?” This is such a simple opportunity to build report but salespeople frequently miss it. If you want to immediately establish a bond that you are like the other person, you won’t be successful if you openly start out on a different level. For example, if your prospect says she’s doing “Oh, pretty good ” and you reply that you’re doing “Excellent! Happy to be alive on this beautiful day!” how do you think she is going to feel? Alienated! Probably like she wants to get off the phone with you
Avoiding Common Pitfalls
Saying certain things will stop your conversation before it even gets started.
Mispronouncing Names: Having a lead list with names can be helpful, except when you aren’t sure how to pronounce the names. As Dale Carnegie famously said, “The sweetest sound to a person is their name.” When you say a prospect’s name wrong, it’s a dead giveaway that you don’t really know the person you’re calling. This is a red flag for a gatekeeper to deny you access to the decision-maker.
Assuming Gender: One of the best ways to make a good first impression is by being polite. That’s why I always address prospects as Sir or Ma’am. Unfortunately, this backfired on me one time.
That’s what your prospects will remember about you too – how you made them feel. If you want to relate with other people, don’t be clueless about your greeting.
Identifying Personality and Behavior Types
There are a wide variety of personal assessments out there, and you may be familiar with some of them, such as the Meyers-Briggs, the DISC, and Gallup’s Strengths Finder. In fact, many organizations make personality and behavior assessments a required part of the hiring process or a mandatory part of 360 performance reviews.
Certain personality types typically mesh together nicely whereas others clash and are almost destined to struggle with seeing eye-to-eye. This is because personality type is a major indicator in how people approach getting things done.
As an example, let’s use the DISC assessment. Personally, I am a fan of this assessment and I have all of my salespeople take it before I hire them. The DISC is based off of four behavioral traits. Here is a quick look into each one:
• D: direct, results-oriented, forceful, driven, and self-confident
• I: social, enthusiastic, persuasive, lively, and emotional
• S: team player, accommodating, patient, consistent, and understanding
• C: detail-oriented, analytical, exact, reserved, and careful
Based on people’s DISC results, I gain a much better understanding how to communicate with, relate to, and engage them.
Be Interesting: If it were as simple as it sounds, we would all be the most popular person at the party. The guest people crowd around to be entertained. In truth, some people are naturally better conversationalists than others. Luckily, practice and hard work can make up for any shortcomings.
Intonation: Remember your monotone science teacher that put everyone to sleep? You don’t want to sound like him on the phone. If you sound like you’re bored with your sales presentation, you can bet your prospects will also be bored.
Vary Your Pace: We already talked about choosing a good pace overall for talking, but it’s smart to have some variation in there to add interest.
You Know the Trick Phrase: You know what makes people’s ears perk right up and listen? A question like the one I just asked you. When you say something along the lines of, “You know what’s really interesting?” or “You know what’s most surprising?” or “You know why that’s so different?” it draws people in.
The Active Mmm Hmmm…:One of my favorites. A major part of your conversations should be spent listening. You may think it’s hard to be interesting when you aren’t talking, but that isn’t the case. You need to make sure you aren’t giving your prospects the feeling like they are talking to dead air. To be an active listener, throw in some sounds or interjections like “wow!” “really?” or “no kidding!”
Use Stories: A big part of sales is educating potential customers on their options. Unfortunately, sharing that information can sometimes seem a little dull, especially when it comes to a plethora of facts and details. Try adapting some of the information in your sales presentation to a story format.
The more you use these tips, the more you’ll experience the advantage of using the phone to connect with prospects and the power of two-way conversations.
While talking on the phone may be on the decline overall, the number of people who own a cellphone has risen dramatically to 92%. Since email has become so widespread, calling prospects can actually be an incredibly effective method for cutting through the noise of your competitors.
Although people won’t always buy from you, calling them on the phone and building a real connection will give you the best opportunity to close more sales.
For more information and additional tips email firstname.lastname@example.org or register here to be notified when The Sales Playbook is available for purchase in Spring 2016: