Jump on in — the sales are fine
No time to waste in this hurry up world
The busy executive picks up his phone.
“Mr. Smith? I’ll be brief. I know you’re busy. . .”
This is the way I begin most of my conversations—right in the middle of things. There is no time in this hurry up world for fancy introductions or throat clearing of any kind. Busy executives don’t have the minutes or patience for an “all about me” kind of call. I believe that we have at most 30 seconds to qualify/dis-qualify our telephone prospects, so I leave out time-wasting introductions. If they want to know my name and the name of my company, they’ll ask for it. And then I’ll provide what they need.
The Latin term en medias res is often used to describe narratives where a reader is dumped right in the middle of a story. Again, this is a reflection of our fast-paced world. If you want to be a success in your teleprospecting efforts, you too need to dive in to the middle of your conversations.
Are you nervous about doing this? Don’t be. Not sure how to jump into the middle of discovery calling? Perhaps without being aware, you have already had lots of experience in this technique. In our everyday lives we jump into and out of conversations that don’t have the introductory waste, and those conversations tend to be richer and more rewarding.
Think of the last time you went to the grocery store. Some little kid probably caused a stir with either a temper tantrum or a very cute comment that had all the shoppers in line behind him or her smiling and laughing. We don’t need the introduction of the child’s name, what she had for breakfast or how he behaved at school. All that matters is what’s going on in the moment. We find ourselves chatting with strangers around us, sharing the moment and moving on.
Teleprospecting can be like this. Jump right in the middle of why you’re calling and you’ll have fewer nerve-wracking moments of, “What should I say now?”
“I know you’re busy. . . Can you remember when your company last signed a contract for computer hardware maintenance? How many users are on your current network?”
By asking technical and open-ended questions as opposed to the insincere, “How are you?” you demonstrate an appreciation for business and don’t want to waste your own time any more than Mr. Smith does. This puts you and the executive on equal social terms, a much stronger position than the groveling many sales people seem to feel is necessary to their success.
Also, by asking for information as opposed to blathering on about you and your products, you truly engage with the person on the other end of the phone. You naturally invite your listener into a genuine conversation.
But what if you get a negative response to your opening? What if you hear something like this:
“Can’t talk now, I’m in the middle of something . . .”
Did you notice your prospect, “Mr. Smith,” said he couldn’t talk now? He didn’t say he wasn’t interested. On your call log you can note that you reached the right contact but at a bad time. This response is actually an invitation to call back. You can wind up your 30-second call at this point with a choice of two dates or appointment times for trying again. Chances are, when you do, Mr. Smith will be prepared to have a more engaging conversation than if you were to simply badger him into a call with your technical sales staff.
There’s one caveat here. Be sure to share your name and company before closing the call. When you do call back, you don’t want to have to start all over with this prospect. You want to make a positive impact with this first dial, and receive a warm welcome when you call back.
As you exercise your discovery calling skills, you’ll find that most of your questions will have a limited number of responses. That’s why working en medias res is so important. The more questions you can pose and receive responses to, the more likely you are to unearth great new prospects as well as industry information.
In short, here are the bonuses to learning to make cold calls by jumping into your subject right in the middle:
- Waste less time
- Engage your listener with active conversation
- Present yourself as a more knowledgeable expert (even though you’re simply asking appropriate Discovery questions)
- Learn more about your industry.
So jump on in. The market temperature is just fine. En medias res can work for you.