A lot of sales people these days are making, or breaking, their career on the telephone. We see it all the time when we hold telesales training courses – the phone is in many ways the key to a successful selling career.
In fact, being superb at selling on the phone, whether you are internal or external, is a consistent attribute of peak performers. And when we are out training, we will often see sales people adopting certain patterns of behaviour on the phone.
We have categorised these patterns into three distinct groups:
At Natural Training we believe scripted telephone conversations has led to a severe credibility issue and call centre mentality the world over. You can tell everyone is getting tired of phone scripts when many governments including those from the UK, USA and Australia are looking at privacy legislation to stop cold calling!
Scripters will do okay in a call centre environment, because they have their script in front of them. Scripters will be surrounded by pages of notes, and they will spend a long time perfecting their lines.
Scripters can often be seen rushing their lines so that they don’t get (rudely!) interrupted by the client before they finish. This is how the whole “fast talking salesman” concept originated – Scripters rushing their words and not caring about how they are received.
Scripters generally make people poor listeners, because they place such an over-emphasis on what to say next that they aren’t listening to the clues that are scattered throughout a conversation.
Many sales trainers, team leaders and indeed sales managers like to script sales people because they see this as a quicker, safer option for success. They believe that it scales well – you can have 450 robots all saying the same thing at the same time.
However scripts are also a fast way to create high turnover of sales staff. While a small percentage of sales people can cope with, and even enjoy, scripts (as long as they have some input), expect most to stampede out your door when they realise the boredom of becoming a script-reading robot.
These are the sales people without a script, and without a structure. Typical comments from Drifters include: “I run on instinct” and “We’ll play it by ear.” Drifters, when they are switched on, can communicate extremely well, as they have no pre-set agenda and they speak from the heart.
But they also might get it terribly wrong, drifting through the conversation without structure, doubling up on some information and forgetting other crucial data.
Managers usually find Drifters the hardest type of all to control, because of the hot and cold nature of their sales efforts.
Too many Drifters on the team and there will be great variances in selling output and results from one month to the next.
So, if scripting is a robotic way to sell, and if drifting is difficult to control, then what are we left with? The answer of course is the Sales Architect.
At Natural Training Sales Architects are the type of sales people we get the most joy from training. Architects really define what should be pleasurable about selling in 2010.
To heighten our understanding of a Sales Architect it’s useful to understand the qualities of a professional architect. Architects plan and design buildings. They thrive on structure and they use their brains to navigate their way around teams, customers, planners, audits, reports and many other factors such as space and time.
Above all, great architects have tremendous focus and vision. They begin with the end in mind and with ambitious ideas and planning watch it turn into reality.
Now let’s think about communicating to a prospect during a sale. The above qualities of architects are of course all excellent qualities in sales Architects too.
Imagine a sales person who doesn’t rely on robotic scripts, but simply creates the structure of a conversation, leading the prospect through it with expertise. That’s a Sales Architect.
Within this structure a Sales Architect will anticipate usual problems and know key junctures of the conversation (and indeed the sale as a whole).
They will know when the prospect tends to need a further explanation, or bit of detail. They will know when to pause, or when to give the prospect time to think. They will pick up when the prospect needs to be motivated and needs to be closed.
Sales Architects do all of this not by following a script, but by letting themselves be free to focus on the conversation, in the knowledge that their structure is good enough to support them.
Great Sales Architects will of course have winning lines that they have thought through in advance. Lines that add value and package up their solution in a way that motivates buyers and inspires them to take action.
Challenge: Become a Sales Architect
If you find yourself in the style of a Scripter or Drifter and would like to consciously move to becoming a Sales Architect, then begin with a plan. Lay out the sale, structuring it with precision. Know where your pivotal moments are going to be, and prepare for those. Prepare some great lines. Anticipate likely twists and turns in the sale by thinking about likely objections. By beginning with the end in mind and having a great sales structure, you will close more deals, more often.
About the Author:
Matt Drought is the Founding Director of Natural Training, a sales training company based out of London and servicing the world. Natural Training focuses on developing the natural style of sales people with innovative, full immersion sales training courses that deliver outstanding ROI. Matt’s 15-year selling career has included FMCG (Cadbury Schweppes), technology (IBM/CSSL) and advertising (TMP Worldwide). Matt is a student of selling and human behaviour and writes weekly on the Natural Training Blog and has a fortnightly newsletter called One Minute Pause.