Instead of Tricks and Tactics Do This

I recently conducted a role play with a younger salesperson who once worked at a large organization that engaged outside sales trainers. During our session I was struck by the fact he had used my first name six times in about a three-minute conversation. So, I asked him about it.

He said he was taught in his previous job to use a prospect’s name at least three times in a voicemail message. I know this is a common tactic taught by sales trainers, and I am sure that there is some basis in psychology for it. We do like to hear our own name and probably respond better when someone knows it, but three times?

Warning, Salesperson at Work

This is just a silly sales tactic that screams “salesperson” all over the place. Practicing it will have a negative effect. The prospect will be “on guard” because they know the salesperson is using a tactic. It is NOT normal to use someone’s name six times (or even three times) in three minutes. Therefore, the prospect’s antenna goes up.

People feel more comfortable when a salesperson speaks with them like a normal person. And if the goal of selling is to try and connect with prospective customers and truly understand them, their situation and their needs, then it becomes critical to be real. Face it, the tricks and tactics have all been used on unsuspecting prospects before. So, they know what is coming when you use their name excessively. Or even when you use their name to force an assumed familiarity with them.

What Really Works

The key to helping sellers become real with their prospects is to get them away from the mechanics and out of their own head. Doing this takes three basic elements:

  1. Don’t just rehearse the words for the process or selling system. Have salespeople practice for tone, feel, and conversational style. Then provide feedback on how natural and genuine they come across; how much confidence will they instill with their prospects; how easy will it be for prospects to trust them. Be brutally honest and specific when providing feedback. Then practice some more. Do it for all possible scenarios so that salespeople gain confidence in whatever they face.
  2. Institute a repeatable, logical, selling process. This should include what must be gathered in a selling situation to qualify or disqualify a prospect. Establish a collection of questions to ask at each step of the process to uncover important information. Another key component of the process must be the element of relationship building. The sales process cannot be just a barrage of questions. Rather it is a roadmap to conduct a conversation. When coaching, make sure to use the “roadmap” to ask questions such as, “What did the prospect say when you asked about this?” Adhere to the process and it will become second nature to the salespeople, something they won’t have to actually think about when conducting a sales conversation.
  3. Relentlessly demand that salespeople focus on the prospect and their outcomes. Rather than focusing on trying to sell something, they must always be concerned with what your company can provide that is best for the prospect. If this means eliminating some prospects from consideration. Fine. Have them do it and do it quickly by following steps 1 and 2 above. Eliminate the distraction of trying to be all things to all people and focus on what you do better than most. Target only those prospects that need what you provide and that will see the value in those products or services. When we try to fit a square peg into a round hole we fail. Therefore, provide a narrow focus for your team to target and have them spend their time with round pegs as much as possible.

As a sales manager, it’s up to you to eradicate those silly tactics and tricks and follow this three-step process instead. Encourage your team to talk to prospects like real people. It’s the only way for them to build trust. It will increase the likelihood that the prospect will actually listen and more importantly open up, as opposed to clamming up because they know a tactic or trick when they see one.