"What are the tricks you use to get people to talk to you?"

I get asked this question a lot; people struggle to find the answer to how they can engage and get people to talk to them. There MUST be a well-kept secret people are using that are successful at this.... right?? 

"The secret to success in cold calling is the most well-known, transparent fact about humans. No one likes to take sales calls....but professionals are constantly making and taking business calls, and it happens every day."

How is THAT a secret of success?

Because executives do take business calls and they make business calls. That being the case, sales reps need to steer clear of the many things that people think of when they hear the term "sales call." That means no tricks, no manipulating, no untruths, no forcing people to commit, no strong-arming, no wordy switcho-chango tactics, no insincere flattery, no cheesy gimmicks to get people to talk, etc. (the list goes on....)  That isn't executive behavior, that isn't "business call" behavior. 

Can you imagine the CFO of a F500 company calling the CFO of another F500 company and saying "I know you're very busy, I promise I won't waste your time, if you like what you hear in the next 20 seconds, can you give me 60 more seconds?"  Needless to say the one receiving the call would be thinking "Okay weirdo..."

One of our clients once said they could never cold call. I asked if they call people they don't know and have a business discussion...they said "of course, all the time."  That IS the model cold call!  It's just a normal conversation.

It can be surprising because when you think of a "sales call," it conjures up scenarios of rejection, pushback, getting screened, refusals, trying to get the appointment, barriers, and many other negative experiences associated with having to break through obstacles to get to a "decision maker." There is a system of screening to block sales calls, but the screening is not designed to block normal business calls.

Executives call executives and have substantial conversations all the time without any trepidation. The key is to distance your methods from the typical "tricks of the trade."

When I train teams, I often ask them to think about what they do as part of their engagement and ask... "Would you talk to you if you called? Would you listen to a voicemail from you? Would you respond to the questions you ask?"

The answers are surprising after some reflection. And having them listen to their voicemails often surfaces they sound more "salesy" than they think.  This includes being impatient. People are very difficult to reach in general, and often the difficulty in reaching people is interpreted as no interest or they need to turn up the volume to press their prospects into action, which comes across as pressure and makes them withdraw even more.

An example of what not to do, is recently I received an email from a rep I have known for years from a company I have worked with for almost 15 years. I already said we will renew closer to the renewal date. But a couple of weeks before that time, I get this:

"If it isn’t your intent to renew please let me know and I will stand down and direct my attentions elsewhere."

Of course, this ticked me off and I communicated I didn't appreciate that, especially after so many years with them and specifically after I already said I would renew. They realized how bad it sounded and apologized; all is good now (for a sales relationship.) But many people wouldn't have pushed back, they would have gone away. Deal lost due to lousy sales touch.

More and more, we have been working with companies on the process breakdowns around relationship management because it is the reason so many deals and long-time customer relationships fall apart. It is poor communication, taking customers for granted, trying to "sell" when really you need to "talk" or better yet, listen. 

Relationships with customers and prospects fall apart from poor communication, taking customers for granted, trying to "sell" when really you just need to "talk" or better yet, listen. 

Over the years, buyers (myself included) become less patient with the sales calls, and the overall B2B landscape has shown the same intolerance of poorly planned outreach.  Conversations have to add value and not waste time. Even big-ticket solution purchases can have the actual "conversation part" of the process pushed out further because of the availability of relevant content online. That being the case, more attention needs to be placed on the experience for prospects.

If you are experiencing pushback on calls or seeing a lack of engagement, it's time to dig in and see what is happening. The first step to self-diagnose is to ask yourself if you would talk to YOU.  Record how you are opening your conversation, record your voicemail. Some find it hard to remove themselves from the equation but when you do, it really frees you up to fine-tune what you are doing. 

Fine-tuning conversation is what the world's best speakers do on a grand scale, they aren't "winging it." Some of the best speakers in the world spend millions on coaches, writers and then PRACTICE to be able to convey their message in a way that is natural and captivating. So whether you are speaking in front of a camera being broadcast live out to millions or you are in your office calling someone on their cell phone....it takes the same conscious awareness of what you sound like and how you are received to get the engagement that progresses a relationship.

You CAN tap into methods that the world's most captivating speakers use on a micro level with one-on-one calls that will transform your engagement into something that is a good experience on both sides. The first step is recognizing you need to examine what is going on and take action.

Going into 2023, it's a great time to commit to change and growth!