Not unlike professional athletes, musicians, and other performers, salespeople can benefit from pre-performance rituals and routines that prepare them for what lies ahead. There are reasons that baseball players take practice swings before the pitcher winds up, reasons that Classical pianists steep their hands in warm water prior to a concert, and reasons that salespeople ought to engage in similar routines prior to picking up the phone or adjusting their headsets and making the next dial.
The most well-trained, well-prepared Olympians and musical prodigies know that preparation, warming up, and having the right mindset are critical for success—no matter how well-trained they might be. The same is true for salespeople. While making sales calls might not be tantamount to playing in the World Series or at Carnegie Hall, it does require being primed and having the right attitude if you hope to achieve success.
In the minutes or seconds before you make a sales call, what are you thinking, doing? Do you have a pre-sales call routine, or do you more or less wait for the sales lead to pick up and then say the same thing in the same way, no matter what?
Even when you know you’re calling pre-qualified, sales-ready leads, you need to do a little preparation before you pick up the phone or put on your headset. You can have had the best training available, and still fail at telesales if you don’t do these three things:
1. know something unique about who it is you’re calling,
2. adapt your approach to suit each individual lead, and
3. focus on the end goal, no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way.
Sales scripts are valuable tools, but any salesperson worth his or her salt knows that a sales script doesn’t make the sale; you do. Before you make your next sales call, take a moment to consider the person on the other end of the line. You can follow a script and still find a way to make a call personal. If the person you’re calling is located in Boston, you might want to mention the Red Sox, ask where to get the best cup of clam chowder, or explain that you’ve been meaning to take a tour of Massachusetts lighthouses.
If you sense the person is sarcastic, open and friendly, or in a hurry, adjust your approach, tone, and the speed of your dialog accordingly. If, despite being pre-qualified, the person seems resistant to your pitch, turn the next statement in your sales script into a question so that the lead is assured that you are looking out for his or her best interests rather than simply trying to make another sale. As sales tools and technology become more advanced, it is becoming easier for salespeople to gather the information they need to make sales calls personal without doing a lot of research or legwork. Take advantage of the tools you have before you so that you can make each and every sales call count.
Often, performers have only a few seconds to prepare themselves mentally before the whistle blows or the curtain is raised. Salespeople, too, may only have a few moments to prepare before they make their next contact. Make those moments count by spending them uncovering at least one unique characteristic about your lead, whether it has to do with the lead’s geographical location, latest company press release, or recent big win—or loss. Then, take a deep breath and remember that sticking to the script doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t adapt according to the attitude of the person at the other end of the line. Finally, consider your end goal, which, in addition to making the sale, should be to serve the prospect or customer to the best of your ability.
Solid training and sales scripts will only get you so far. To be a successful sales professional, you have to take responsibility for your own performance by developing the pre-performance rituals that work for you.