I hate making phone calls.
Even worse than that, my wife and business partner Diane hates it even more than me. So it looks like it's my job.
Phone calls are unavoidable. Our business runs on them and if we left everything to email, it would totally suck.
So, when we decided to become a HubSpot Agency Partner earlier this year, I was invited to join HubSpot's Pipeline Generation Bootcamp. This is an intensive 8 week course run by Dan Tyre (one of the original 10 HubSpot team) and sales expert. This was no mean feat. The requirements were strict. I was signing up for 8 weeks of intensive sales calls. An hour a day of homework and a massive kick-up-the-bum to take some serious action. Oh, and did I mention, I hate making phone calls!
So, 8 weeks later and my mind is blown.
The course started with the basics - practising my opening line - 'Hi, this is James from Perspective Design'. It might sound stupid but that opening line is the very first impression we give when we make a call. For a week I walked around the office repeating it over and over again - by the 100th time, it was a lot less scary thinking of picking up the phone.
I was now ready to make my first call - I did the research, I knew what I was going to say and was ready to take a leap. I stared at the phone for about 40 minutes, picked it up at least 3 times and put it back down again. I'll try again tomorrow.
Next day, it only took me 3o minutes to hit the dial button. I did it, I actually pressed dial. Voicemail - Oh crap, I bottled it and hung up the phone. Dan asked me how I was getting on and I told him that I'd made my first call, 'Did you leave a voicemail?' he said. 'Well err, no - I hung up' I said. 'Then it doesn't count' said Dan.
Back to square one.
I finished talking to Dan, picked up the phone and tried again. It went to voicemail and I left a message!
BOOM, as Dan would say (he's a bit like that).
After that, things got easier.
I'm now out of the other end of the course and have a long list of calls under my belt and my confidence has now grown. So here are 7 things I learned from the bootcamp that will help you make better sales calls today.
1. Calls should be warm and not cold
No one likes answering the phone to another cold call script, where the sales rep reads out the same crap to everybody in the hope that something sticks. That's purely a numbers game - if you phone enough people, surely one of them will bite.
Instead, do your research. Only phone people, who you can genuinely help. Find out about their business and offer to help.
2. Help everyone!
Not everyone is going to be a perfect fit for your services, in fact lots of them will say no - but you can still help them. Maybe they don't have the budget for your services, or they are already working with another partner. You can still offer value by educating them.
If you've done the research, you know some of the problems they are struggling with - you can offer advice on how they might overcome some of their problems. Just be nice and helpful.
3. Take an interest in people
Your first call with a new prospect, which we call a 'Connect Call' is not about selling your stuff. It's about finding out more about their business and seeing if you would be able to help them. No one wants to be sold to, but everyone likes to be helped.
4. The receptionist is a real person - be nice
Sometimes, you don't get through to the person you want straight away - you get through to a receptionist or secretary. Be nice and polite and remember your not there to sell to them. Ask them what their name is. Take an interest.
Sales take multiple 'touch points' - don't give up on your first attempt. HubSpot recommend that you reach out to each prospect 4 times before you give up. Just because they couldn't take your call on attempt #1 doesn't mean you shouldn't try again a few days later. Left a voicemail? Follow it up with an email and call them another day.
6. Video Prospecting is flippin' brilliant
I may be more confident on the phone than I was 8 weeks ago, but I still love video prospecting even more. With the right tools, it's so easy to record a quick video introducing yourself and reaching out to a prospect.
We use a tool called Vidyard, which is super easy to use and I'd definitely recommend having a go with it.
7. Pick up the phone
Just do it - stop procrastinating and pick up the phone. Seriously, stop reading this article, pick up the phone and call someone. If you don't know who to call, then here's my number (+44 1507 640100) - I promise to be nice.