As we train tens of thousands of people every year, there’s an endless debate of who has a harder job: inside sales or outside. The bottom line is, it’s always greener on the other side.
Outside sales people certainly have to deal with the fact that they’ve got to continually feed the funnel, and most of them suffer from some form of call reluctance. But as an inbound sales person, you certainly have a big advantage: the buyer called you. Either way, though, you still need to separate yourself from your competitors. Often, you’re not the only person that the caller is contacting, so your challenge is to distinguish yourself.
The amateur inbound sales person would most likely do that through features and benefits. You know your product better than most customers do – even though the customer now has the benefit of online research. But separating yourself purely through the product could be a shortcoming. You’re better of distinguishing yourself by how you act, how you answer questions, your basic dialogue. But how do you do that?
Certainly, you can have playbooks spread out in front of you, because another advantage to inbound sales is the customer can’t see you. This allows you to follow scripts, playbooks, written notes – all the things that are sitting in front of you – as you talk to the person that’s making the inbound call.
If you’re an outside salesperson, though, you certainly can’t arrive for an appointment and say, “Hey, that’s a great question – let me look at my play book” and then flip to your sales aid. It just doesn’t work that way. But YOU can have all these tools in front of you. You should use them.
Let’s talk about some simple tips that will help you become as effective as possible.
We have a program dedicated to inbound sales, and here are some best practices that we’ve gleaned from our program.
1. Your Opening
A call that starts well tends to end well. I like to always say, “Thanks for calling, how can I help you today?” That’s a simple open ended question. It’s not “May I have your name and number in case we’re disconnected,” but you certainly can open with that as well, because you want to know their name.
At that point, you continue with “Hi, Fred – I’m Dave. Thanks for calling – how can I help you today?” That’s another great way to start, because they’re going to lead you in a direction. They’d like to find out more about this, or more about that (and we’ll talk about how to ask those specific questions in a second).
2. Building Rapport
Rapport is key. Consider first your own physiology. You’ll be far more productive if you can stand for an inbound call and use your hands. When you’re using your hands, you’re speaking with tone inflection, and engaged in the call, versus head down, shoulders hunched, and taking furious note which, by default, will render you a poor listener.
You also need to look for behavioral clues from your buyer. We use the DISC assessment tool – a simple behavioral model. There are four different types of communication styles and behavioral styles. If you know who you are, then it’s easy to make sure that you’re flexible in your communication style when talking to somebody else who doesn’t have the same style that you do. It’s easy, of course, to communicate with somebody that shares the same behavioral style. But Inbound sales people get paid to be flexible in their communication styles. Buyers change the way that they want to buy. You adapt to them. Are they big-picture, or detail-oriented? Are they talkative, or close to the vest? Do they want to know about how it’s different, or how it’s the same? These are the potential clues that will help you as you shape your questions and responses.
3. Have a playbook
Every sports team has a playbook. They make a lot of money and they’re all professionals. Why is that? Because they don’t make it up as they go. They don’t wing it. The best inbound sales people have playbooks, which capture many different things.
For instance, develop a 30-second commercial based on your product lines. How do you handle the top five objections? What are the top 15 questions that you ask? How do you do X, Y, and Z? In capturing that information, you’re able to provide feedback in a consistent manner. It shouldn’t be a static document – continually upgrade and update your playbook so you can become better and better.
4. Become a doctor of sales
Doctors are very smart, but they don’t make any assumptions. They don’t say, “Thanks for coming into the office. I know what your problem is, and we’ll be able to schedule surgery shortly.” There’s no potency or credibility in that – just lawsuits. We want the doctor to ask a ton of questions, almost as if they’ve never heard of our symptoms before.
As they listen and as they ask questions, the patient’s confidence rises, and the doctor continues to learn valuable information. However, if doctors made the assumption that all patients ask the same types of questions and therefore must all be the same, they would be sued for malpractice. The lesson here is listen. Act as if each inbound caller has a unique issue. And they do, according to them! But you need to make sure.
3. Focus on pain
Customers buy emotionally and justify their decisions intellectually. Find out what’s causing their problem – why are they calling today? Focus on pain, not features and benefits. The sooner you can talk in terms of what your product does, the problems that it solves, the sooner you can help them resolve their pain. This doesn’t require conversation about how fast a certain software is, and whether it does what their software can do. You want to know what problems your product will help them solve. Determine your product’s impact on the person that’s calling you.
I hope that utilizing these quick tips will help you handle inbound sales call and achieve your goals. Good selling!