The 3 Common Mistakes Sales People Make While Telephone Prospecting, Tibor Shanto
Tibor Shanto is a Pre-Discovery Specialist driving conversion & pipeline creation via improved execution. He helps B2B companies translate sales strategy to reality and was often called a brilliant sales tactician, obsessed with implementation.
Tibor helps sellers align their process with buyers’ decision and buying process. He specializes in prospecting and communicating value in a way that drives access to and action from decision-makers. Tibor makes his clients regularly see a double-digit increase in opportunities and pipeline values. He works with companies from Fortune 50 to start-ups achieve their revenue goals.
Tibor Shanto at B2B Binge 4th edition focused on three mistakes most sales reps make while prospecting on the telephone. The three mistakes he mentioned are, most of the time, easily overlooked by most sales reps.
1. Accept who you are: It means understanding who you are and what do you represent. Understand what you are set out to do every day. Develop an understanding of your prospect and treat them as such. Your prospects are trying to do fit a lot in a day. Your call will interfere in their plan. Make their time worthwhile when they agree to talk to you. You should know that you are not the only meddling in their business. Therefore, develop an understanding of the challenges your prospect might be facing.
2. There is nothing social about telephone prospecting: Think in a counter-intuitive manner. Understand that you are going to interfere in someone’s schedule. They are also wanted to end those interferences and get back to what they were doing. So take a look from the customer point of view and understand what is of value to them.
3. Expand your toolkit: The one who is prospecting has to understand that the channel you are comfortable with that may not be the case with your prospect. Not everybody thinks like you. Contact the lead through the channel they are pleased with. So you have to expand your expertise across various channels.
AMA with Tibor Shanto
Q- What are the touchpoints you need to address for sure while prospecting through the telephone?
I’d like to I like to tell people to think about the busiest highway leading to the downtown core where all the businesses are headquartered in your city. So it’ll vary in each city. What I want you to do is think about your prospects sitting in that highway stuck in traffic at a quarter to nine when they have to be at a leadership meeting. Those are the things you want to touch, and none of those have to do with your product. They all have to do with what they’re trying to accomplish or achieve. what you’ll find is that when they’re listening for those filters on the six thousand calls that they’re getting the initial filters
o is this person talking about something important to them, their product
o are they talking about things that are important to me, which is what I was thinking about stuck in traffic an hour ago?
Q- What is your exit strategy to execute before ending a call?
Well, my favorite one is the person agreeing to for an appointment, and we schedule the time, and I send them an invitation. But in reality despite my best efforts that come in at sort of the minority of the time. I’ll maybe add that as the fourth mistake that salespeople make when they finish the call. They generally make the mistake of asking for permission to call back or asking for permission to send information. I think they don’t need to do that. The way that I like to end the call is if I take three objections from the person, and I can’t take those objections away. So I’ll take the first one, the second one, and the third one. If I can’t get them to engage after the third one, I don’t want to be that guy that holds on for dear life as the bus is leaving the station. So what I say to them is sounds like “now is not the right time. I’ll give you a call back in the future.” but you decide when that future is so if you’re in a high transaction environment where that person might make multiple purchase decisions a day. That future could be a few days from now. But if you’re an environment where that individual may make one decision a month. That future could be a few months away. So as an example, if you consider my audience sales leaders, I tend for that future to be the start of the next quarter. So the next quarter is going to start. It’s when they’re making assessments as to where they are, where they want to be. So for me, that future is the first week of that next quarter. But it would be best if you determined what that is based on several simple factors. Generally, how much time have to forget your last call.
Q- How you converted your mistake in one of your calls into your advantage? An example will be of help.
So I think there’s a couple of things one is that salespeople think that when the call is over, the game is over. And it’s not. It’s just the period that’s over. So there’s it we’ve all had this. Where you get off the call, and three minutes later, you remember something that would have been relevant to that call. Or you’re driving down the highway, and it’s like 10 minutes you left it.
Going, oh man, I should have brought this up. There’s nothing wrong with picking up the phone or sending the individual an email and saying, George, I was thinking about you.” people love to hear that they were thought about. “I’m not sure that I did our meeting justice because I failed to talk about this.” and you can put that out there and then suggest that why don’t we schedule a quick call where I could make up for my mistake and things along those lines.” I think the other is those people have been trained 16 times, and most of the people who’ve been doing the training have trained them to not like salespeople. So I think when you are counter-intuitive, you begin to look for things that you would suspect that the salesperson before you and the salesperson after you wouldn’t do and you do it. I mean, you should be willing to try almost anything. So I have had scenarios where the person was adamantly in terms of saying no, but I was able to ask a question. It got them to think about things differently. Now the trick is to ask a question that is again relevant to them. Not like when can I call you back or why didn’t you like my product or some amateur question like that. But if you can ask a thoughtful looking question about their business with the goal that even if it doesn’t extend the conversation at the moment will leave a lingering impression. So you should always be ready with a direct question. One that I like for various reasons. If I’m sitting with somebody and I’ve run out of things to say. I’ll ask him if we were sitting here 18 months from now and you were telling me that your team had hit a grand slam or won the world cup, what would that look like. It forces people to imagine what the future is. It takes them out of the present, and generally, you’ll get a conversation out of it. I’m not saying you’ll get a sale or an appointment, but you’ll get a conversation.
Q- Telephone prospecting is great, but there must be a combination?
There must be a combination to be played like email with telephone etc. when we prospect for a higher ladder. People let me know what combination you advise and how it should be executed properly. So let’s start with the rule that you should never exclude anything at least once. As I mentioned earlier, we want to expand our toolkit; it’s hard to do that without experimenting. So once you’ve experimented, you only need to experiment once, not all year. But in general, I think what they’re looking for is what study after study has shown. It is that while there are anomalous things, the best combination seems to email, InMail from LinkedIn, and telephone. And if you use that in the combination that some call the triple tap. Then that’s the easiest combination and what you’ll find is that the phone adds to this. The conversion rate of almost any combination and I know it seems like a paradox because people don’t answer their phones. But that’s why people have to master voicemail because people are not answering their phones, but they check their voicemail religiously. So you got to leave an effective message that gets you to get a callback.
Q- If I’m calling you now to sell, what would be the major checkpoints you would look for to continue the call with me?
I look for the objectives, one of the things that salespeople don’t do. A lot understand why they win or lose. They assume that if they win. It was their product and a god-given skill, and if they lose, it was the product and price. So they don’t go back and look as to why the deals unfolded the way that they did. If they would do that and again, they can get a tool to review their deals. What they would find is that certain things continue to present themselves in wins, and certain things continue to present themselves in losses. And so what you want to do is begin to include those things that are helping you to win within your narrative. And to give you a clue, what we tell salespeople to look for is what were the things that changed in the customers’ world after they implemented your service. So most salespeople will go back a week later and ask how we do it. Everybody’s doing great because the cellophane’s still fresh, and everything is right. But if you can go back six months later and let’s say they bought an application from you. And you go back six months later and instead of asking them how much they love you because they love you because they sent you a check. But instead of asking them how your workflow has changed over the last six months. And as they explain how their workflow changed, that’s the exact thing you plug into your next prospecting call. Because that’s what that person is also aspiring to, maybe not in the same way. But I think if you lined up your cfos, you probably wouldn’t see much variance in their opinions.
Q- What are telephone prospecting etiquettes that should be followed or practiced?
I think like any other social conversation. You want to ask questions and the hardest part for salespeople. I’m not joking. It’s because of excitement, so it comes from a good place, but they can’t keep their mouth shut long enough to let the prospect answer the question. I don’t know if your audience will know it. Salespeople are all warmed up, and they hear a word and boom. They jump on the prospect. The first time the prospect will forgive it. The second time they’ll go, hmm. By the third time, you’ve trained them that you’re not going to let them talk, so they’re not going to answer anything, any questions that you ask them. So ask and shut up or maybe shut up and then ask.
Q- It is not easy to buy someone’s time to talk through telephone when compared to email or message. What’s your take on that?
I think it’s false. I think people are hiding behind email because you don’t have to deal with the rejection. You assuming that if you didn’t hear them in six years. They’re not interested, but you can’t do anything to change that well they’re not interested in something that would be easy for you to address. If you engage humanly because then you can ask questions. But I’m not opposed to the email I include it, and I’ll start with it. It’s not one versus the other. I’m just saying that in terms of the question, but there are certain things I mean, like it or not, the telephone is human, and yes, you do have to deal with the rejection factor. But you have a chance to change it in email. What are you going to do? You can’t keep emailing and saying, why aren’t you answering? I’ve had emails like that. You’ve had them too. You don’t know if you should laugh or cry at the person’s right.
But on the other hand, with the telephone, I can have direct interaction with you and even if it comes out in a way that isn’t desirable for me. I still have the opportunity to come back. But with email, I don’t know. I’ll tell you a real quick thing, I remember. Back in the 90s, I was reading that. In Scandinavia, kids were turning to text messages to ask other kids for dates. And the reason why is they didn’t have to deal with the rejection. I think it’s the same in email.
Q- Top three lessons you have learned in telephone prospecting so far?
I always do it because people always find reasons not to do it. What you want out of it, which is the appointment. Many salespeople get on the phone to get somebody to engage. Then they get very excited they start selling to the person. If you present yourself as a subject matter expert, then you have the right to be in that conversation. So I don’t think you have to be apologetic. I think the customer has every right to say,” no, now is not the time,” but it’s our job to figure out when the time is right. I have been there, as well. I just closed the deal with somebody I first approached in 2015. so you don’t want to close the door in some ways.
Q- What is your starting point to make an interesting call and to facilitate an easy conversation. What would be your steps for that?
First, you need to initiate the calls. It would help if you got the person’s attention, and then you have to make an engaging statement. And while I say that’s easy, I mean there’s work involved, but once you know the formula. The formula is easy, which again we’ve talked about it. Which is you need to understand what objectives they’re likely are focused on in the business, which is not that hard to figure out because they talk a lot about the internet making buyers smarter and give them a lot more information. It’s a pretty good source for us sellers too. They have to make the engage statement, which would be based on objectives, and then you have to ask what I call an impact question. It is a close-ended question. But closed-ended questions got a bad rap in the 80s. So I’m trying to rebrand them and calling them the impact questions. But the reason you want a yes or no is the quicker you get the objection out, the quicker you can begin to deal with what’s happening in the call. So most salespeople are trying to avoid the objection. We teach them to have a natural conversation, and the personal objection is things you could do. But in most instances, when it begins to be interesting because that’s when you begin to deal with the person. You may not like the answer, but at least you’re having a genuine conversation.
Q- How much time interval would you take for the next call with the customer?
If you’re making prospecting calls and even if you’re an inside sales rep. You know you still have to prospect at the person to agree that they’ll listen, and then you move to the sale. It is hard when you’re working with inside salespeople because they want to go straight to the edge. But I think a typical prospecting call with the intent of getting the appointment shouldn’t take any more than three minutes. You’ve got about 20 seconds till you get to the engage statement, then you ask them a question, they answer it. Then you ask them for the appointment, and they say the script they give you an objection, and you’re trying to take away three objections. If you can, you’re off to the races, and you got the appointment. If not, then we talked about how you disengage in a way that allows you to come back. But this is the part that I think makes salespeople bad prospectors. They think it’s like days long affairs. I ask people what percentage of their time they spend prospecting, and they tell me 30 because they want to impress the boss. I say in a 40-hour week you’re going to tell me you do 12 hours of prospecting. Two-plus hours no, make it easy on yourself. It’s a two-minute call; my numbers are twelve six, and once I can bang out those twelve calls in less than 45 minutes.