I have a confession to make. I’m not a salesman. Personally, I have a deep suspicion of sales people that call me, unsolicited, to tell me about what their product can do for my business. My guard goes up even if I know it’s coming after I fill out a form to get some “free” content, because as the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as a free puppy.”
I don’t like getting those kinds sales calls myself. But new business development is part of my job description. So, I’ve always harbored reluctance (read: been scared to death) to make sales calls myself. Fortunately, I am grateful that that is changing.
I recently participated in a Prospect Generation Bootcamp with HubSpot. The 8-week program is sort of basic training to learn Inbound Sales techniques from the master, Dan Tyre. Dan was employee #6 at HubSpot and trains their sales team. His new book, Inbound Organization, explores how to apply the Inbound methodology across an entire company.
Each week for the past two months, Dan has been my teacher and trainer on a Monday morning conference call, along with 10 other agency reps he calls “Lions,” to provide the tools, scripts and software to get me and my cohorts started on the Inbound Sales path.
The Inbound Sales process consists of four steps:
- Connect Call
- Exploratory Call
- Goal Setting Call
- Present and Close Call
The Prospect Generation Bootcamp focused on training for the Connect Call. In this first step, a prospect has visited our website and filled out a form. They have requested some of our expert content and perhaps visited a few other pages of our website that would indicate they have a business question or need that V2 Marketing could answer. Marketing automation that we configured in our HubSpot CRM alerts me that I should reach out to this qualified lead with a Connect Call to find out how I can help further.
Through role play with the other Bootcamp “Lions,” and weekly practice homework with real-life prospects, Dan became my mentor and coach, offering positive feedback and sage advice with his positive energy that is nothing if not infectious.
For more than five years as a HubSpot partner agency, I’d had a basic understanding of the principles of Inbound Sales. I knew what I needed to be doing, but lacked the discipline to do it effectively or consistently. Over the past two months, Dan Tyre’s one-on-one instruction helped clarify the process, set goals for basic sales metrics, like a numbers of calls and appointments, be accountable for hitting my goals (mostly because I didn’t want to look like a slug in front of all the other Lions), and if I’m honest, the process helped me face my fear of calling.
Here are six nuggets from the Prospect Generation Bootcamp that helped me stop worrying and love Inbound Sales:
Help, Don’t Sell
Inbound Sales, and the Connect Call in particular, is about helping the prospect, not selling your product. The inbound lead has visited our website and requested our content to answer their questions. I’m simply calling to learn more about their business pains and see how I can help. Maybe after a short conversation, I can offer some tips, additional resources, or useful software. But for now, I’m just here to help, and leave the “selling” for a future phone call.
Never make a cold call
Do your research before picking up the phone. Since I’m calling an Inbound lead, I have this person’s contact record in my HubSpot portal. I know what pages on my website they have visited, what blogs they’ve read and what forms they’ve filled out to get my expert content, so I can reference that in my Connect Call. My script could say something like, “I saw that you downloaded our ebook about Inbound Marketing. What were you looking for help with?”
In addition, I’ll spend 10 minutes looking up the lead on LinkedIn and reviewing the contact’s company website looking for potential opportunities where I could provide some tips for improvements.
The ones that pick up the phone, close the deals
I used to fear cold calling. But a Connect Call is not a cold call. I’ve done my research before the call, and on the Connect Call, I’m helping, not selling. It’s early and still a little scary, but it’s getting better. Practice. Just do it. It gets better.
See what I did there? Lion? Paws? The script looks like this.
“Hello, this is Chris from V2 Marketing.”
PAUSE…PAUSE…PAUSE until the prospect acknowledges that they heard you. The pause is critical. Wait a minute or more if you have to, but don’t talk until they say, “uh…yeah?”
Also, chin stroke
Another critical part of the Connect Call is to let the prospect do the talking. Encourage the prospect to continue by stroking your chin and saying, “hmmmm. That’s interesting. Tell me more about that.”
Stand up and smile
Someone told me recently that sitting is the new smoking. Standing opens up your body and improves your breathing pattern in a conversation. Smiling while you’re talking on the phone makes you sound friendlier and more engaging. Try it, it works. I got a VariDesk. It’s awesome! Not only does it get me up on my feet, but my hips, knees and back no longer ache after sitting in an office chair all day long.