Picture Above: Collabrance Sales Reps, Jake Wagner (Left) and Hannah Erb (Right), on the phone at their desk in the Cedar Rapids office.
The sales team and I are on the phone every business day, Monday through Friday. As a small team, we have to be mindful of how we are using are time and making the most of our conversations. It’s important to us and the person we’re talking to that we are prepared and respectful of each other’s time.
Go online and research your contacts and their companies! Visit their website, google to see recent news they might have been mentioned in, and proactively search for information that can help you better qualify and understand how you can create a valuable conversation. You can learn a lot of base knowledge about a company or contact online that will help you qualify them based on your target customer profile, and advance your conversations when you do talk. Showing that you’ve done your homework can never hurt and demonstrates that you’re invested in the conversation.
Find your prospects on social media. Specifically, we look to connect on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. LinkedIn is a great way to learn a contact’s professional experience, background and ways you might be able to connect (i.e. Do you both have *mutual contacts? Do you have any shared interests? What social media groups are they involved in?). Twitter and Facebook also tend to give us a glimpse of the company’s culture. It’s important when we are exploring B2B partnerships with Service Providers to have culture alignment. This is also a nice platform to see what peers in the IT channel are talking about so we can help contribute to more conversations.
*Bonus Tip- Use your mutual connections whenever you can, even if it is just to ask them what they know about the other person. If you actually take the time to do this, you will find that most of the time your mutual connections are happy to help, and many of my connections have even offered to make an introduction on my behalf.
Before picking up the phone, take time to think about the purpose of the call and how to make it mutually beneficial. We ask prospects a lot of questions to learn as much as we can about them, and we prepare these questions before the call to help guide us in the conversation. Since it is difficult to know where a conversation might lead, we have also developed a questionnaire we can reference on a call in the event that a conversation goes in a different direction. We also take time to think about what questions they might have for us, and prepare answers for those questions in advance. Role playing is a good way to practice guiding a conversation and how you can handle it if it goes another direction. Finally, we always set a call objective answering the simple question “What do we want to have accomplished by the end of the call?”
Many companies have pre-call planning templates they use to assist with preparing for the call, and below are some of the topics included in a pre-call planning template:
Most importantly, document your call notes in your CRM! Personally, despite what I might tell myself, I rarely remember all of the details of a call. If I do not take notes and record them in my CRM as soon as possible after the call, I could find myself asking the same questions on the next call.
In summary, having a pre-call plan will lead to a more successful conversation. In addition, your prospects will appreciate the work you have done before hand to understand their business, and make the best use of their time on the call.
Jim Hocking is the Director of Strategic Relationships at GreatAmerica Financial Services in the Connected Technology Group. Jim started at GreatAmerica in 2011 and has held multiple sales positions and mentor roles in the Office Equipment Group, the Communications and Data Group and most recently served as the Director of Sales for Collabrance from 2016-2018.