If you’re making sales calls, especially cold calls, people are going to hang up on you. No one likes it, but it’s part of the cost of doing business. That said, strong salespeople experience far fewer hang-ups than run-of-the-mill reps because they’ve learned how to establish rapport in those first few seconds and make sure they’re always keeping the needs of the person on the other end of the call in mind.
Want to join their ranks? Here are three tips that, if put into practice, should sharply reduce the number of people who disconnect calls without letting you say goodbye.
Take a few moments to learn their name and company
Before you get on the line, make sure you are able to pronounce their name and company correctly. Nothing causes someone to hang up faster than butchering their name. If you’re unsure, ask someone else or use one of the many free namepronunciationtools available on the web.
You can even call the company itself. If they have a receptionist, ask them how to properly pronounce the name. But if all else fails, and you’re still unsure, be upfront about it.
“Hi, Ms … and I hope I’m pronouncing this right … Achtymichuk? Did I get that right?” At the very least, you will have communicated a desire to say their name correctly, which is probably more than they usually receive, if their name defies all the strategies above.
Also, assuming you have the luxury of time, do some cursory research on their company so you know their business and the particulars of the kinds of challenges they may face. Clearly, you’ll be asking questions during the call, but if your questions make it clear you don’t know the first thing about their business, prospects will seriously doubt you’ll be able to help them. Click!
Be a friendly human being
Remember, when you’re calling someone cold, everyone will see you as an intrusion into their day. Keep that in mind as you attempt to build rapport because you’ve only got seconds to convince them you’re worth talking to— a mistake here could end the call immediately.
Be friendly, but not too friendly. You’re not their buddy and trying to come off as one will make you sound creepy. A friendly, “Hi [name pronounced correctly]. My name is Pat, and I help companies like yours cut parts costs by 50% while improving quality. Would you be interested in talking for a few minutes about that?”
Note that you’re talking about the prospect and putting the focus on their needs. You’re asking them if they’d like to hear more, which shows that you respect their time and their opinion. Launching directly into the sales pitch without giving the person on the other end of the line a chance to talk is a huge turnoff. No one likes feeling bulldozed.
Also, it’s important to avoid sounding scripted. Scripts are great tools, but it’s worth taking the time to recast them so that it sounds like something you would say. Even better, memorize the main points in the script so you don’t have to read it. Finally, take it slow and pitch your voice down a bit — when we’re nervous, we often increase the pitch and rate at which we talk, and prospects will pick up on those signals.
Listen and be respectful
When the prospect is talking, it’s time to shut up. In a friendly conversation, we often interject here and there to show that we’re listening and engaged (“Sure!” “Absolutely.” “I hear you.”), but on a cold call, these interjections can backfire. People are already primed for you to try to run over them with a hard sell, so any interruption, even benign ones like these, can disrupt their train of thought and provoke them to end the call.
It’s also important to listen to a prospect’s objections. If for instance, a prospect replies, “Hey, now really isn’t a good time. I’m in the middle of something,” and you ignore them, launching into your sales pitch, how receptive do you really think they’ll be?
Instead, acknowledge their objection and pivot to something that will provide you with an opportunity to call back: “Got it. When might be a better time to call?” or “Understood. Would next week at this time be better?”
But let’s assume the prospect is interested in hearing more. Now is the time to ask questions. You want to qualify your prospect, of course, but you also want to learn more about their specific needs so you can provide a solution.
Let them speak. It’s tempting to rush in when they mention something that you’re absolutely certain your product or service can address, but resist that urge. After all, that may not be their primary challenge, and no one likes being interrupted.
Listen to everything they say and then summarize what they said to check with the prospect that you understood them clearly. That shows you are respectful and careful, both of which help to build trust. Only then should you start talking about solutions.
It will take some time to incorporate these into your daily calls. Don’t get discouraged. You will make mistakes, and even these are not the end of the world — HubSpot has an excellent primer on how to recover for sales blunders. Over time, if you continue to practice, you will learn how to enter a cold call with calm confidence, establish rapport quickly and generate more sales. And while-hang ups will never completely go away, they’ll become the exception, not the rule.
Looking for help on how to grow leads and increase close rates? Get in touch!