Inside sales reps need to make a lot of friends. Their job depends on their ability to be gregarious, informed and likable, which is not always the easiest task.
It’s like trying to be the cool kid in high school. The words “try” and “cool” just don’t fit together. Sales people have a difficult task: Make people like them without appearing desperate. It’s got to be organic and natural, even if it takes practice.
When the “try” far outweighs the “success,” sales can take a sharp turn into the realm of stalking. No one likes a creepy sales paparazzi, badgering customers and skulking around leads instead of acting as a trusted friend and advisor. I’ve pulled together a few tips and tricks to avoid giving the wrong impression when wooing prospects.
- Take genuine interest
Prowlers fiend interest to obtain relationships. Sales leaders ask real questions and uncover meaningful connections.
According to sales expert, Rick Roberge, “Casual conversation about the prospects convert. How did they start? Why did they start? What gets them up? What gets them down? What have they tried? What have they heard?” To help forge connections, Rick has compiled a list of 100 sales questions to ask to get meaningful information about a prospect's circumstances.
An inside sales rep’s interest should go beyond their commission. Salespeople who take interest in the success of their customers become “cool” and “likeable” as a byproduct of their positive intent.
- Be informed on what matters
There's a line in the sand that separates the informed from the creepy. For some, that line may seem obscured by pressure to appear prepared. Research does benefit inside sales reps who want to craft a valuable use case. But it’s important that their research has a clear intention. Inside sales reps should research to become an informed resource, not a best friend with hearts on their binder.
Social selling expert Heather R Morgan puts it this way, "While it's important to do your homework and research your sales prospects to understand how they think, letting them know you stalked them and know what they had for breakfast isn't necessarily a plus. The best strategy is to leverage the information you learned in your sales prospecting to have relevant conversations that combine their pain points and desires with what your product or service can offer or solve for them. In short, you need to use your research to discover really targeted ways that you can help them even more, rather than just thinking about yourself."
- Act with consideration
A stalker demands center stage and lets their desire lead conversations. It’s an inconsiderate way to do business. Inside sales reps who want solid relationships need to make the prospect center stage. A good rapport is built on a lot of active listening.
Here is sales expert Barb Giamanco’s take, “Appropriate rapport will happen when your sales approach and messaging are focused on what the buyer cares about and NOT what you want to pitch or demo. This is the definition of rapport – “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well.” What the buyer wants is for salespeople to demonstrate that they can help them solve their business problems. You don’t build rapport with someone you don’t know with a pitch or an offer to do a product demo. It is that simple.”
- Know when to walk away
You can’t win them all, and that’s ok. It is important that inside sales reps know when to walk away. The old adage “don’t take no for an answer” is a formula for disaster. If it’s not a fit for the customer, you’ll end up doing your company and brand more harm than good. If they simply aren’t interested and you continue to press the topic, you’ve entered the threshold of stalker. Cut your losses and find a prospect that is a better fit. The more time you waste on a disinterested prospect; the more money you lose from neglecting potential buyers.
NewVoiceMedia CEO, Jonathan Gale, feels strongly that good company sales come from an honest and upfront approach. He says, “If you look at behavioral science studies, what all of us want, in any conversation around sales or service, is the bad news early and a positive end to the conversation. Often, we treat prospects as an SQL or an MQL or pre-pipe or discovery. And that dehumanization of the people that we are engaging with and looking to sell to creates all sorts of problems. For managers, are you encouraging your salespeople to get the reasons why you might not be the best supplier for a prospect out early in the conversation? Or have you set your team up to try and obfuscate that and push it back?”