Phone prospecting is a sales method that no longer has to prove its effectiveness. Through this method’s implementation, sales representatives can quickly address a target contact as a prospect and convey key information about the product or service they wish to sell.
Phone prospecting reduces the time spent looking for new customers, reduces costs (especially transport costs), and allows a real bond of trust and proximity to be established between salespeople and prospects. From the very first phone discussion, sales representatives understand and directly address the prospect’s questions and needs.
Despite this, phone prospecting still receives bad press. This is mainly because its effectiveness is not 100% guaranteed. To achieve their objectives, salespeople must know how to correctly construct their prospecting argument.
How can a prospect be convinced over the phone?
Knowing your target is key
Phone sales prospecting is suitable for all products, services and contacts. Salespeople generally have to deal with all types of people, and within a multitude of different structures (whether they be small or large, and of various sectors of activity).
To convince someone, one must put oneself in their shoes in order to better understand them. When on the phone and talking to someone for the first time, interacting isn’t always easy, by fear of upsetting or boring the caller.
To convince a prospect over the phone, one must know one’s target audience well and to adapt one’s speech accordingly. This at least means identifying the person you are about to talk to, along with their position and the structure they work for.
The prospecting file
A prospecting file is a document that lists the information that salespeople need during a phone prospecting phase, such as identity, position, structure and contact.
This prospecting file is a malleable and evolving document. It must be continually updated to avoid any disappointment over the phone.
Despite regular updates, prospecting files remain generic documents subject to potential imperfections. When salespeople speak to prospects for the first time, they must systematically seize the opportunity of validating the information they have.
Building a prospecting argument
Once the target has been identified and the information has been validated, a salesperson’s priority is to identify the needs of the person they are talking to, in order for the sold product or service to answer these needs.
Depending upon the company for which the prospect works (size, sector, etc.), the questions must be adapted. The challenge here is to understand the potential customer’s needs, interests and questions as quickly as possible. This cannot be improvised: preparing a prospecting argument enables an effective and convincing process.
The phone sales argument
What is a phone prospecting sales argument?
A phone prospecting sales argument or pitch is a guiding thread that guides salespeople during their discussion with prospects. It is a major tool for salespeople, enabling confidence gains, and therefore efficiency gains.
The sales argument’s aim is to make a short presentation and explain the reasons for the call, but not to sell the product! The objective is to make the caller want to book a future appointment.
What a cold prospecting sales argument is not
The main risk in writing a prospecting argument is that you end up with a long, very detailed document that salespeople learn by heart. One mustn’t write a monologue, but rather provide the means to establish a genuine conversation.
The aim is always to give the prospect as much say as possible, so they can express their interests, needs and questions. The sales pitch should therefore be precise enough to make people want to move on with the sale, but it mustn’t be completely exhaustive. Further detailed information on the product or service can be discussed over a subsequent conversation.
The different stages of a phone sales argument
An efficient phone sales pitch is divided into several parts, each of which is equally important. The catchphrase is essential as it is the first contact with the prospect.
The subsequent qualifying questions enable salespeople to avoid wasting time and to present their arguments with better knowledge of the person they are talking to.
Finally, the sales pitch should list a number of potential objections along with their answers. The call should systematically end with a conclusion summarising and announcing the next steps.
The catchphrase is the first link between the two callers. Salespeople should bear in mind that the person they are talking to may be in a hurry, or sometimes even be answering the phone in between meetings.
As such, the catchphrase must be short, clear and add real value to the following discussion. It should make the prospect want to listen further.
Throughout the sales pitch, silence must be given a prominent place. A salesperson should not rush through their entire sales pitch as quickly as possible, but rather offer enough time for the prospect to speak.
The catchphrase should make the prospect want to continue listening to the salesperson, who can then quickly present the reasons for the call.
The main aim of qualification
Drawing up a list of qualifying questions enables the salesperson to know whether they are talking to the right person and to quickly understand their needs. They will then know whether the proposed product or service can meet their needs.
This phase should not be underestimated, as these questions allow the salesperson to know whether the prospect is a potential customer or not.
It is in the interest of all salespeople to follow the BANT criteria for successful phone prospecting and requalification. The criteria are given below:
- B for budget: does the prospect have the budget to make the project a success?
- A is for authority: is the prospect the decision-maker for the implementation of the project?
- N is for need: does the prospect need the proposed product or service?
- T is for time: what is the timeframe within which the project can be deployed?
Qualifying questions should concern the approached structure, its problems and its needs.
Salespeople must gather a presentation of the organisation they are addressing through general questions such as:
- What is your position?
- Tell me about your company and your sector of activity.
- What are your objectives and when do you want to achieve them?
- What indicators do you use to monitor your activity?
Then they should analyse the problems and needs of their prospect through questions such as:
- What are your problems and priorities? Why?
- What would be your ideal solution, and what opportunities could this solution bring?
- Do you currently have a plan to address your issues?
Gradually, questions become more and more specific, such as:
- What is your budget for this solution? What are your financial resources?
- Have you already invested in a solution?
- Are you now in a competitive situation?
- Who makes the final decision?
- What are the legal or administrative steps to be taken into account?
Once the qualification is carried out, the salesperson can present the product or service in greater detail. However, one must not list all the advantages of the product. These will be discussed over a subsequent phone call.
The most important thing is listening: knowing the prospect, hearing their needs, desires and priorities. The arguments must be based on these answers, and must be as precise as possible.
As such, the sales pitch detailed in the phone prospecting template includes certain points that may never be raised with certain prospects. The prepared and written sales pitch must be exhaustive so that salespeople can choose the arguments that are most consistent with the needs raised.
Phone prospecting can be annoying for some prospects who feel they are wasting their time. To make sure that they have an interest in listening, salespeople should ask a large variety of questions.
This is a stressful aspect for salespeople, who may feel unprepared. However, writing a sales pitch helps limit surprise risks.
All potential questions should be listed, along with the corresponding arguments and answers. Armed with a detailed sales pitch, salespeople gain confidence. Prospects’ confidence is increased when they see that their questions are clearly answered.
Concluding the sales pitch
The conclusion should summarise what was said during the call. Salespeople mention the next steps. To this extent, they may propose a next meeting, along with its main aims. If required, they may also mention future emails or other forms of discussion.
The conclusion is also an opportunity for salespeople to thank their interlocutor for their time. Where the catchphrase is the first link with the prospect, the conclusion determines the last impression the prospect will have of the salesperson. The challenge is thus to make this last exchange as warm and friendly as possible.
Phone prospecting is a fundamental business tool that allows one to target prospects and thus meet their needs as effectively as possible. Although each exchange is unique, drafting and preparing a phone prospecting sales pitch is essential.
This pitch must include questions to qualify the prospect, present arguments adapted to their needs and answer any questions they may have. Thorough preparation ensures that every salesperson has greater success and a better return on investment.
One needs to know one’s target and understand their needs to convince a prospect over the phone.
A prospecting pitch is a guiding thread enabling a salesperson to be guided during a call with a prospect.
The prospecting pitch includes a catchphrase, qualifying questions, targeted arguments, answers to objections, and a conclusion.