Scripting the Introductory Conversation with Your Prospect

In these times, have you given more thought more to your sales presentation? Whether you are calling someone you met from an Association you are a member of, or making a cold call to a prospect from your database, are you very clear about what you are trying to accomplish on the call and how to go about saying it?  Sales professionals rely on basic principles that have historically yielded consistent success. Such a process begins, of course, with a call guideline, or script. This script can be used both to train new employees and refresh a veteran team member. It is designed to give consistent results by controlling the flow of the conversation, regardless of who is delivering the message.

Follow this protocol for scripting the introductory call, and you will see your appointment setting ratios skyrocket!

Salutation:

Avoid insincere-sounding openings with little utility, such as “How are you today?” Avoid setting a trap for yourself with questions such as “Did you receive the information I sent you?” This question often merely prompts the prospect to respond with “No, send it again,” thereby cutting the conversation short or demeaning the information by proceeding without it. Avoid inquiries that precipitate a negative response. Get right to the point with such an introduction as “Hi, this is Mary from ABC company. We specialize in assisting (industry) with (benefit statement).” 

Engaging Questions:

Make sure that your prospect is an active participant in the dialogue. Create the opportunity for positive responses while getting the information you require as the salesperson. Avoid run-on sentences or one-way conversations that alienate the prospect by going on and on about how large your company is, how many years you’ve been in business, etc.

Speak in snippets because attention spans are short-lived. You’ve got less than 30 seconds for your compelling message, and if you can engage the prospect and make them an active participant in the conversation, you’ll gain rapport. People like to talk, and if given the opportunity, will verbalize what they think they need without being pressed. Occasionally employ open-ended questions such as, “How are you currently handling that now?” or, “Tell me about the current program you’re using.” Use questions that start with “tell me about” or “describe for me.” Consider what meaningful questions you can ask the prospect to get them talking.

Benefit Statements:

 The prospect often has many products and services from which to choose, and is already associated with your competition. A salesperson must be prepared to stress his/her company’s unique edge and amenities. How will you save time, increase profits, and reduce costs? Quantify the prospect’s potential savings and earnings by having your statistics and your dealings with other companies ready and available. Increase your credibility by displaying your knowledge of the prospect’s industry and of his/her competitors.

The prospect must go from looking down on you for intruding to looking up to you for a solution. For example, “I’m calling to talk to you about how we’ve increased weekly prospect meetings for ABC software company salespeople by 30%, calling upon manufacturing companies and getting meetings with decision makers to discuss their services. Our clients have also found we help with retention since we alleviate stress and rejection associated with making introductory calls.”

In this example, the benefit statements included increased appointments (which was quantified) and higher retention. The competitors name was mentioned along with specifics of the marketplace that were targeted, adding credibility to the pitch.

Close for Appointment:

A salesperson who wants the appointment must ask for it.  Every time you respond to an objection (which should be answered with a question to understand more about where they are coming from), bring it back to the close. A salesperson must know how to get back on that main road if detoured. An example of a proactive close is, “Do you have a calendar in front of you? Take a look at what looks good for you over the next week or two.”

Prepare Now to Meet. Gather Information:

 Before ending the introductory call, gather whatever pertinent information you need, so that the prospect’s needs assessment and solution can be personally tailored for the face-to-face meeting. This information may be gathered by asking such questions as, “Have you ever outsourced this function before?” or “How many employees do you have?” Avoid intrusive or obligatory questions, or questions better reserved for the closing meeting, such as, “What does your budget allow?” or, “If you find value in our service would you be willing to commit?”

Reconfirm Appointment:

It is easy to forget an appointment, so be sure to advise your prospect to write it down (and repeat it yourself at least twice, with the set date and time.) The call may be properly terminated with, “OK, Joe, I keep 100% of the appointments I set, so I’ll see you on Thursday the 18th at 3pm. Here’s my number in case an emergency comes up… It was great speaking to you.” By offering your number, the onus is on the prospect to call to cancel (as opposed to you having to call to confirm and make it easy to cancel!) Avoid making a confirmation call the day before, and if you do, get the prospect’s extension so you can simply leave a message. Also, if the appointment is a few weeks out, write a handwritten “thank you for your time” card, thanking the prospect for the opportunity to meet. It not only flatters the prospect, as anything handwritten has become a thing of the past, but also serves as a reminder of the appointment.

Handle Objections:

Now that you have a script that helps you control the flow of the conversation, do you have the language to overcome the objections? Lucky for you, there are only five to eight objections you’ll hear from a prospect. These include, “Send me something in the mail,” “I’m happy with my current vendor,” “I’m under contract”, “call me after the holidays,” etc.

Follow these scripting secrets and watch your appointment setting ratio skyrocket!