"Thoughts are Things" —Napoleon Hill

How you think of yourself as a sales rep will translate into how you communicate to your prospect. That is a universal truth for all things, if you believe something will happen....it probably will, i.e., the self fulfilling prophecy.  If you see prospects being annoyed at your calls, they will be.  Example: if you believe your cold call is a nuisance, you will project that through your voice gestures, your choice of words, and your overall interaction with your prospect.  Sales reps that assume their call is unwanted, often open up with statements like "am I calling at a bad time?" or "is it okay to talk for a minute?"  Or end their introduction with a question--like "Hi Barbara, this is Bill Smitherton over at Imagintech?" The tone sends a subconscious message of "do you know who we are?" Those kinds of statements also immediately create a class distinction of "you don't know me, you are better than me, your time is worth more, will you please talk to me...."  Those same sales reps will also say to themselves "Executives never call back, no reason to leave a voicemail." Or, "Executives don't take cold calls, I never call without a warm intro."

I do a lot of troubleshooting for sales teams, and one thing I continually see is the biggest obstacle to success is the belief systems reps have about engaging with prospects.  How we THINK about things designs the way we DO them, so sometimes what is needed is not coaching but changing a mindset.

What are some mindsets to examine?

  • "People don't take calls."  Ask if you are calling the right people? What are you saying? Would YOU take a call from YOU? Do you leave yourself messages to see how you sound on a voicemail?
  • "No one answers their phone." Are you calling the exact same person at the exact same time every day?   Are they on vacation?  Are they in the same job?  
  • "People cut me off."  What are you saying when they cut you off?  What is the stage of the conversation you generally lose people? Is there a pattern?(Hint: yes)

The good thing about realizing that your beliefs are impacting your results, is the ability to change results opens up.

Sometimes it is a lack of empathy of what is happening on the prospects side.  For example, realizing what is happening with your buyers enables you to see a couple of things.  First, they may have heard your message and are interested, they have been too busy to call back.  Or maybe they didn't even get your message. Everyone isn't carefully micromanaging each voicemail like a precious piece of data to close the loop on, likely they are just busy and had good intentions but the reality is life happens, days go by, and it falls off their radar.

Also, pushing on the system is very important.  What do I mean by that?  If you are calling someone repeatedly and not reaching them--have you even determined they are there?  Many reps get angry and frustrated someone isn't calling them back only to realize they are out sick, or on vacation, or don't even work there anymore.  So instead of "air coverage" of contacts you haven't personally confirmed, zero out and ask if they are in this week. Are they the right person?

Another thing that happens is sales reps don't realize how they are communicating.  Sending a 700 word email will overwhelm someone that has about 4 seconds to read something is a sure way to lose their interest.  Keep your follow up short, concise, and fit it in what can be seen in the view window of Outlook without opening it.  That view space is how much real estate and attention span you have, more than that is asking too much on an initial contact.  What you want is for them to say "tell me more"  not "this is way more than what I asked for."

The good thing about owning your results, is you can now control your results. Conversations and engagements are predictable and measurable and you can change what you are doing to get to the right results.  This is why a person will get 2 calls from 2 different people about the same topic with the same talk track, they talk to one but not to the other--why?  Because it wasn't what they said as much as HOW they said it.

Here are a few things to do as a homework assignment.  If you aren't getting the results you want, ask yourself what is happening.  Do you introduce yourself in the form of a question? Do you believe prospects don't want to talk to you?  Do you need to change your beliefs about prospects?  Are you losing their attention at a certain stage of the sales cycle or conversations?  You'll find a slight adjustment will change your experience significantly.

What you can do:

  1. Leave yourself a voicemail of both your introduction on live calls and your voicemail message to see what you sound like, do it until you get it to the tone you want. Ask "would you would listen to YOU?"  Hearing yourself will surface if you are taking too long, or if you are saying things that could be stated a better way.
  2. Examine if there is some consistency to your unsuccessful calls--there may be a phrase or term(s) you use that aren't resonating. Use common industry terms, not acronyms or internal solution terms they may not know.
  3. Do you believe prospects don't want to take your calls?  Seek out successful models of how to connect, not negative industry fodder written by people that don't like to cold call.

Thoughts are things, so make them things that are working for you!