I’ve been listening to sales rep pitch their products and services for over 25 years now, and there are still words, phrases and techniques that send shivers down my spine. And I’ll tell you now they send shivers down the spines of their prospects and clients, too.
Let’s face it – when selling over the phone, all you have is your voice , and the way you deliver your presentation – the words you use, the inflection, pacing and timing you use – has a huge impact on the way you are perceived by your prospects. Unfortunately, many sales reps project an image of being unprepared, unsure, rushed and sometimes even scared.
Your prospects sense this immediately. They know from your first few sentences whether they are dealing with a confident sales pro, or with someone who isn’t very sure of what they’re selling and who is uncomfortable with the sales process. And like sharks, these prospects will attack and blow you off with all the stalls, resistance and objections you get now.
If you want to project an image of professional competency, then make sure and avoid using any of the following statements or words:
What NOT to say when cold calling or prospecting:
1) Stop opening your calls with, “How are you?” I’ve written about this before, but 99% of sales reps are still telegraphing themselves as unwanted sales persons by starting out their conversations this way. How do YOU feel when someone you don’t know calls you and uses this worn out line? Probably like hanging up on them– which is exactly how your prospects feel as well. So stop it!
Instead, use a better opening line that immediately differentiates you from all the other sales reps calling your prospects. Use something that connects with them instead, that focuses them on the call and that forces them to think and interact with you.
A few of my favorites are: “How’s your Tuesday going so far?” and “Has it started/stopped snowing there yet?” and “Can you hear me O.K.?”
2) Take the word, “individual” out of your vocabulary when speaking, emailing or otherwise addressing a prospect, as in, “I know you’re a busy individual…” The word individual is an institutional, cold phrase that doesn’t belong in a sales conversation.
Think about it: When was the last time someone you didn’t know called you and referred to you or your wife as “individuals”? How’d that make you feel? Did it give you the warm and fuzziness or did you make you think you were about to be committed?
The language you use must help you create a natural, conversational tone, and words like, “busy individual” or “busy professional”, etc, do just the opposite.
3) “Things of that nature.” I cringe as I even write those words…. Whenever I hear a sales rep end a sentence with “Things of that nature,” I’m pretty sure they have no idea of what they’re talking about. That phrase is most often used by mediocre sales reps to hide or cover up the truth that they don’t know all the details of what they’re talking about. Or, it is used to as lazy way to bridge into other qualifying questions.
If you are using it now, please consider using something else, or better, explain a few of those “things” and then use a tie down to see how that landed…
What NOT to say when closing a sale:
1) “Can you transfer me to (the decision maker)?” Most presentations end with the stall: “Well, I need to run this by my boss/partner/manager/corporate, etc.” Unfortunately, this usually comes as a surprise to many sales reps who failed to qualify for this upfront. Some sales reps then think they can just bulldoze through the stall by demanding to talk to the decision maker right then and there.
While I applaud you for your tenacity, asking to blatantly go above the person’s head you’re speaking to or have just pitched, immediately alienates them. Often times this person is some kind of sales influencer and alienating them is NOT what you want to do.
Instead you should use different techniques, one of which being: “So, John, when you consult with your manager, is this something that you’re sold on and will recommend to them?” (If yes, then): “Great, how can I help you sell them on this?” (Only if they can’t think of anything): “Would it help if I spoke to them and went over this just like I did with you?”
That’s the way to get permission and to finally earn the right to speak to the decision maker.
2) “I don’t know about that – let me get back to you.” It’s O.K. that you don’t have an answer for something, but what’s important is that you convey that in a confident manner. Try any of the following:
“That’s a great question and we have several ways of handling that. Let me ask you a couple of questions regarding your particular situation, and then I’ll be able to get the best solution for you…” OR
“That’s a good question for my technical support team. Let me see what they would propose and get back with you.” OR
“We have a whole department that deals with that, and I’ll check with them to give you the best solution.”
Each of these responses helps you delay answering until you get the right answer, but they paint the picture of a bigger, more competent company structure which helps to give you credibility.
3) “When should I call you back?” Why would you want to put the crucial follow up of your sale in the hands of your customer? Asking this question means handing over control of the sale to the prospect which means you lose control. That’s bad. Here are better ways of keeping control and getting a commitment for a follow up call:
“How long will that take?” Then: “O.K. I’ve got my calendar open and that would put us to Tuesday of next week. Are you looking at your calendar? Great. How does 2:45pm look for you?” OR
“(Prospect Name) you’re probably as busy as I am, so let’s go ahead and schedule a follow up call to access progress. I can do this same time (tomorrow, Friday, next week), does that work for you?” OR
“It’s going to take me (a day, two days, a week, etc.) to get this started on my end, how about I give you a call around Friday at this time to see if there’s anything else you need? Does 2:15pm work for you again?”
The key here is to get a commitment. All top producers remain in control of the selling process and know when the next call in the sales cycle is – and so do their prospects!
So there you have six things to stay away from during your next sales call. As you use these techniques, you’ll find yourself developing better rapport, getting more information and staying in control of your selling situations. Heck, it’s starting to sound like you’re a top producer already!