Brad Massey (Twitter: @BradMassey) of Sandler Training began his presentation to AWC Austin and Austin AMA attendees by leading us in an interesting exercise where we turned to the person next to us and tried to have a one-minute conversation without the words “I,” “me,” or “my.” He concluded from the difficulty of this exercise that the reason many sales attempts fail is because we talk more about ourselves and put our need to get the sale before the needs of the customer. He followed by surveying the room and asking, “Who likes to make cold calls?” A couple of people raised their hands. Then, he asked, “Who likes getting cold calls?” Nobody raised their hand. This, Brad claimed, was the critical dilemma.
He pointed out the key take-away from this activity: People buy from people… they like and trust… who are like them. His intent was to drive home the point that no one likes a salesperson. In fact, he elicited descriptors for the word “salesperson” and got the standard run of smarmy, used-car salesman adjectives. The solution? Be more human and transparent in our interactions! (“Wow,” I thought, “that’s exactly what I always recommend as the basis for using social media.”)
Brad walked us through the typical “Buyer-Seller Dance” that makes up the sales process and why it fails. Starting with the “Traditional Sales System,” Brad led us interactively through the 5-step process typically used by (and taught to) sales people: Get leads, Probe needs, Qualify by giving features and benefits, Close the sale, and Overcome objections and ask again. Next, he compared that to the “Buyer’s System” which is how customers react to sales calls in order to avoid buying: Mislead or misdirect to avoid contact, Ask for more info and price early, Avoid committing to the purchase, and finally Avoiding contact again with the sales rep.
Clearly, this system doesn’t work very well. Cold calls may only have a 3% success rate, so Brad’s message was really about how to change this broken system. The primary way? To be “disarmingly honest” with potential customers! To wit, he told us of a customer of his who admitted he hated cold calling so much he would get nervous, his palms would sweat, and the hair on the back of his neck stood up. Brad’s solution: he told his client to make 300 cold calls in 2 weeks and tell them that! “Say what?” Yes! And give the customer the opportunity to opt out of the call right away! The resulting script: “Hi, I’m John of John’s Company. Let me let you know, this is a sales call, so if you want to hang up now, I understand and won’t be offended. (pause) Thanks, I hate cold calls as much as you do! To tell you the truth I get so nervous my palms sweat, etc. but if you need some xyz I know my company can provide you great product/service.”
“Wow! What a difference!” I thought. “That sounds so social media!” It was refreshing to hear a sales coach telling people to be authentic, to put the customer’s needs first, and to treat people as people not sales opportunities. In the end, Brad said, you may not make a sale on that call, but if you gain their respect and trust they’ll be more likely to call you back or refer you when they have more of a need for your product or service. Again like social media, it’s more about the relationship you may have just started than making every contact a win-or-lose transaction.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Would that type of cold call work on you? Please share your perspective in the comments.
Ricardo Guerrero is the Social Media Director of the Austin AMA for 2010-2011. As Social Media Dynamo™, Ricardo provides social media strategy, implementation, and coaching to help small and medium companies better understand and develop their social media presence. He’s also creating a web application to help organizations use Twitter effectively called Stwittergy™. He’s currently helping organize Latin America programming for SXSW 2011 and serves on the SXSW Accelerator Advisory Board. Ricardo enjoys geeking out, dining out, sampling fine beer and wine, and traveling with his wife both near and far from Austin. Follow Ricardo on Twitter at: @ggroovin