The Loneliest Tool in the Sales Person’s Arsenal
[Posted by Mike Scher, October 13, 2015] Estimated Time to Read: 4 minutes, 3 seconds
Picture it: A gorgeous Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, sun shining, breeze blowing—a perfect day for golf. 3rd hole, I assess the distance and conditions and determine that the best club to use is my 3 iron. So I grab my 5 wood and promptly send the ball right over the green. Why didn’t I use the 3 iron, you ask? Because I hate it. I don’t hit well with it and simply put, it frustrates me. The 3 iron is the loneliest club in my golf bag. We work with thousands of sales people and each one is equipped with a ‘tool kit’ similar to my golf bag, which provides them with plenty of prospecting weapons. Their kits contain everything from email and engagement devices to dialers and sales research tools. But the loneliest tool in their bag is the most effective one: the telephone.
Why has the phone been deserted?
Just as I go out of my way to not use my 3 iron, sales people use every excuse and justification NOT to use the telephone. They rationalize by saying people never answer their phone—“We always get voice mail or the dreaded gatekeeper. It’s really just not worth my time.” Is this a reality or are these sales people avoiding something they aren’t comfortable with? From what we have studied and observed, is it likely the latter.
The real reasons behind phone avoidance
The top 2 reasons we hear for choosing email over the phone are:
- People don’t like to be bothered by phone
Email has become a far more commonly used tool than the telephone because it is easier and a lot less threatening—and because an unanswered email isn’t considered a form of rejection. That certainly stings less than hearing ‘NO’ or even worse, being hung up on.
- Email is more efficient
It has been argued that email-only or email-dominant outreach is more efficient. Once a standard template is created, you simply customize and send away. I reject both of these arguments. One of my own sales managers, Chris Duncan, said something recently that encapsulates this perfectly:
“With all the tools available, sales people have come to believe they can do just about everything without doing anything.”
Don’t get me wrong: I am not against email, but every communication protocol has its pros and cons. For all its good qualities, email severely limits you in a number of ways:
- Standing out – You receive scores of emails each day and so do your prospects and customers. Your email can easily get overlooked in the sea of other seemingly similar messages.
- Being properly understood – We’ve all had situations where a sent or received email resulted in a gross miscommunication. Many times this happens amongst colleagues and friends, who know each other well. Imagine how much more difficult it is to get someone less familiar with us to comprehend our emails in the manner that we painstakingly endeavored to write them.
- Restricts ability to navigate – Email outreach (especially any sort of prospecting or pre-opportunity emailing) assumes that your database is up to date and the contact you are reaching out to is indeed the right person you need to speak with.
For example, Joe Smith, VP of Widget Sales (which is one of the titles you want to pursue) is in your database. The problem is that Joe may not be the Vice President in charge of buying from you today—but how will you know if you don’t ask? Email greatly restricts your ability to navigate to the key player because if Joe isn’t the right guy, he rarely, if ever, forwards the email on to the proper person without additional prodding, such as a voice mail or a phone call from you.
- Emotionless – Selling is always about creating trust and getting an emotional buy-in to your solution. However, the emotions most commonly created from email-dominant communications are: – frustration (due to lack of comprehension) – alienation (lack of personal interaction)
I don’t think you’ll find those emotions on the list of desired outcomes in your Sales 101 handbook.
Learn how to use your tools
I’m certainly not suggesting that we do away with all the tools sales people have at their disposal. There is a time and place to use efficiency tools to conduct social research, automate dialing, send mass emails etc. Successful sales people choose the right tool every time because they know how to use them. That is the key. Similarly, if I am going to elevate my golf game, I need to learn how to hit with the 3 iron and use it when the situation calls for it. Otherwise, why am I carrying it in my bag?
While networking and face-to-face meetings are the best way sell (I 100% believe this), the second best approach is the telephone. People buy from people and you can’t build trust through an email.
The telephone (or better yet, the telephone with video!) is the next best approximation of that face to face, personal encounter. The telephone enables you to navigate accounts, build relationships and gain critical intelligence necessary to seal the deal. Through our experience of examining 1.8 million outreach efforts, I can confidently say that combining sales acceleration tools, emails and the telephone is the Golden Triangle of Sales; in this competitive selling landscape, they are ALL important.
Knowledge is Power
I think the single greatest reason sales people turn away from the phone is because they haven’t learned effective techniques and the ensuing lack of results caused them to hate the phone the way I hate that club. But the phone wasn’t to blame for the lack of success, was it?
The telephone is in your bag. Educate yourself on how to effectively use it and you’ll eliminate your handicap and improve your sales game dramatically.
Time for me to go. My 3 iron and I have a lesson at 2pm.
How StaccatoTM can help
Staccato will help sales reps love their phone again. Staccato’s proven methodology provides reps with a consistent, repeatable phone prospecting solution and can double their number of appointments with key players. Call us today at 877-726-7271 or click here to learn more about Staccato.