Whether you’re cold calling or warm calling prospects, you can influence the outcome of the deal. Although the buyer has the ultimate control of the final purchase decision, every word and phrase you say, and your attitude during the sales call, can impact the probability of winning over the prospect.
So how do you ensure you are closer to winning the deal? Here are 11 tips to help you improve your close rate.
11 Tips to improve your sales
- Create your call script
- Use the right words
- Ask one question at a time
- Ask open ended question
- Ask deal closing questions
- Never dodge their questions
- Never give a blind quote
- Show them the value
- Learn the art of listening
- Its OK to say NO
- Know your product
- Research before you call
Create your call script
When you’re watching your favorite movie, you aren’t sitting there wondering whether the actors are reading from a script. But every line they speak is scripted. They’d practiced, rehearsed and drilled the script many times until it naturally flows out of their mouth.
That’s exactly how many efficient sales closers use a script (yes, they do use one). They write down what they want to say and the questions they want to ask, and rehearse them until it sounds natural. The scripts act as a reference, and as you make more calls, you can keep improving on it.
Aimlessly following a script is the fastest way to turn off prospects and they will lose interest in your product or service. Here’s what Shoaib Yunus, the head of inside sales for UK and Middle East at Freshworks Inc., has to say about how prospects feel when you read from a script.
Use the right words
When you talk to prospects, the right words often leads to the right reaction. That’s because selling always starts with a linguistic engagement before it becomes a financial transaction.
Here are some words that you should use and some you should avoid in your selling vocabulary.
- Use words such as “certainly” and “definitely” to project certainty and confidence in your communication.
- Use the phrase “Help me out here” with difficult prospects to get a real dialogue going.
- Avoid using industry jargons. The moment you use language the prospect doesn’t understand, their confidence level drops and they lose interest in the conversation.
- Avoid filler words such as really, you know and actually. Use shorter and simpler words whenever possible.
- Avoid sentences like “Well, to be honest with you…” which gives prospects a feeling that you’ve been hiding information from them during the conversation.
- Avoid using words/statements such as “I’m not sure,” “I think/I might,” “Maybe/Probably,” “ASAP.”
- Avoid the phrase “I understand” until the prospect tells you that you did.
Ask one question at a time
When you ask questions to your prospects, make sure you don’t combine two or three questions in one sentence. This will confuse the prospect and they might miss certain key details that could help you solve their business challenge(s).
Rep: “How do you send emails today and how do you track the responses?”
Ask open-ended questions
When you ask too many yes-or-no questions, you’re limiting the amount of information you can gather about the prospect.
Rep: “Are you looking for a helpdesk system?”
Rep: “Do you use one today?”
Conversations like these are a complete waste of time. You aren’t learning anything from the interaction apart from the fact that they are looking for a helpdesk system and they aren’t using one today. Rather, ask them an open-ended question to gain insights into their business problem and what are they looking for as a solution.
Rep: “What are you looking for in a helpdesk system?”
Ask deal-closing questions subtly
You have targets to achieve and every call you make counts. You want to know if the prospect you are calling would move fast in your sales pipeline or would fetch you a huge amount. No doubt you need those answers, but you can’t ask those details bluntly. For example,
Rep: “How many users would you purchase the solution for?”
Rep: “When can we close the deal?”
Rep: “Are you the decision-maker?”
Rather, how about,
Rep: “What is the size of the team you are looking to onboard into the product?”
Rep: “Is there a specific timeline to get the product up and running?”
Rep: “Are there any other key stakeholders to make the purchase decision?”
Never dodge their questions
Sales calls are not only about you qualifying the prospect, but also about the prospect qualifying you and your company. When you brush off their questions, they can’t fully learn about who you are and what your company does. They wouldn’t have gained enough trust in you or your company to actively do business in the future.
But when you answer their question, you show you’re actively listening to the conversation and are dedicated to providing the best possible solution to their problem. Here’s what Srinevasan MS, Associate Sales Lead at Freshworks Inc., has to say about developing a bond with your prospects.
Never give a blind quote
One of the most common concerns by salespeople is, “I sent out a quote, and the prospect goes radio silent. What went wrong?” When the prospect wants a price even before knowing the value, you might be encountering a “column fodder” or someone who is just fishing for information. One tactical way to handle such a situation is to simply refuse… but professionally.
Rep: “I wish I could just make up a price for you. It would save me a lot of work. But I would like to understand your business challenges better and provide an appropriate solution before I give you a proposal.”
The chances are the prospect wouldn’t want to carry the conversation forward, or would just get the information from your colleague. But it’s alright to let go of such prospects because you’re wasting the most important resource you have as a salesperson—your time.
Show them the value
Prospects don’t like listening to salespeople who keep rambling about the product and features without listening to their pain points. If prospects don’t find value in the conversation, they are going to turn you down and move to a competitor. Showing the value rather than talking about the features prompts buyers to move to the next phase of your sales funnel. And that’s exactly what Vinod Chandramouli, Director of Pre-Sales at Freshworks Inc., has to say in this video.
Here are some ways to add value to your sales call:
- Provide a reference of an existing customer with similar situation and concerns. A relevant use case creates authenticity and shows that you’ve had similar success in the past.
Rep: “Your business model is so much similar to one of our customers in U.S, Widgetz.io. I helped them evaluate and implement our product for their business.”
- Send follow-up documents like case studies, competitor analysis sheets and product videos to help them learn more about your solution.
- Connect the benefits of the product to their pain points.
Learn the art of listening
Allow your prospects to do 70% of the talking. The longer the prospect talks with little or no interruption, the more likely a deal is to close. Of course, if the prospect talks for more than 3-4 minutes, it’s alright to interrupt and ask clarifying questions rather than not asking at all.
When you listen and ask clarifying questions, you are uncovering the prospect’s pain points and finding out areas where you can help them. In fact, you can also find out if the prospect is evaluating other competitors early in the sales cycle so that there is ample time to diffuse competitor offers.
It’s OK to say NO
When prospects ask for a feature that isn’t in the pipeline, never say, we can’t do that or that is not important. Instead, provide a creative but factual rationale as to why your product doesn’t have the features. It’s OK to say no rather than overpromising and not delivering at all. This will damage not only your credibility but your company’s reputation.
Rep: “It is certainly a good feature to have. Most of our existing customers will benefit from it as well. Unfortunately, we don’t have this as a priority in our pipeline, but I’ll definitely suggest this idea to my product team.”
Know your product
One way to increase sales is to have a thorough knowledge of your product. When you know your product in and out, you can assist your customers better, and tune your sales pitch to focus more on selling the benefits rather than the features. Vinay Srinivas, Account Manager at Freshworks Inc., talks about why it’s important for salespeople to have product knowledge.
Some of the information you need to know about your product:
- Pricing structure
- History of the product
- How to use the product
- Available features, and
- Features in pipeline
Bonus tip: Research before you call
Even before you pick up the phone, you need to know a little bit about your prospects and their business to build a conversation. Look at Google News, social media and your CRM to learn important insights about their passion, skills, and point of view. LinkedIn is a great way to find out if you have common connects/friends with the prospects for an intro or as a reference point to start your conversation.
Have a tip of your own? We’d love to hear the tactics and methods that have worked for you when selling on the phone. Share them in the comments below.
Cover illustration by Udhaya Chandran