Do You Sing In The Shower?
I already know the answer. I do. We all do. It sounds so good. There’s some type of acoustical magic when your voice bounces off the tile and travels through the steam and mist.
You don’t even have to know all the words – just mumble – especially if you invested in one of those Bluetooth, waterproof speakers. I know this. My pre-teen son is burning the batteries up in his speaker and killing our water bill.
But if you keep singing once you step out of the shower, how does it sound? Your dog would probably be howling and your family laughing, crying, complaining, or all three.
The truth is, you probably aren’t a very good singer. But if you only sing in the shower, where it sounds good, and you never actually listen to a recording of you in real life, you’ll never really know how good (or bad) you are or how to improve. Fortunately, you have a sales career to fall back on to make a living.
Here’s the next question: How do you sound when you are selling? Do you think your sales conversation sounds as good as you think your shower singing does? Have you ever really listened to yourself?
If not, I’d encourage you to do so. It’s part of becoming Other-Centered®. Seek. Seek the truth about yourself and your effectiveness and strive to be better. It’s one of the most effective ways improve. It’s painful at first, but it’s why successful professional sports teams watch hours of their own game film each week – to see what they did in the game and how to improve next time.
The easiest way to start is to record your sales phone calls. Unless you only meet people face to face, we all use the phone to some extent to sell to customers. If your office already records your calls automatically, find out how to get access to them. If not, you’ll need to invest about $60 on two items:
• A telephone recording adapter that goes between your phone and your hand/headset to capture the conversation and plugs into a recorder
• A handheld digital recorder to create a file that you can play on the device or load onto your computer
Once you have access to your calls, block off 60 minutes every week or so to listen, take notes, and work on problem areas. Do this even if your manager already does it with you. You are your best coach.
Learning how to review your own work to find the positives and opportunities to improve will become more important as you move along in your sales career and have less supervision and observation. Plus, the stakes will be higher.
Assess the Results of Each Step
Use a results-based competency assessment vs. a call scorecard. Results-based competencies focus on the result with the customer, while a scorecard checks to see if you hit the all the points of a textbook introduction.
It’s like golf: if you hit the ball 300 yards in the fairway every time, but your stance over the ball is a little unconventional, are you really going to try to fix your stance, or just realize it works for you and just keep driving in the fairway? Scorecards tend to look at the 28 things you are supposed to do and see if you did each one – for the sake of doing them. They are OK to check on once in a while, but they won’t help you diagnose your key opportunities for improvement.
As you listen to your call, answer yes or no to this set of results-based competencies that can help you understand your effectiveness on an actual call with a customer. It’s a fundamental set of competencies every salesperson needs that we call One-to-One Competencies™. After you read the question and try to answer them, if you aren’t sure of the answer, I’d mark it as a “no.” Trying to make each of these things happen on a call will get you well on your way to sales success.
• Engage: After introducing yourself and proving the Other-Centered® purpose of your call, did the customer/prospect agree to the call and your agenda?
• Discover: After your questions, did the customer agree that your summary of their needs was accurate, insightful, and comprehensive?
• Build Value: Did the customer embrace that your recommendations were potentially beneficial?
• Advance: Did the customer commit to a next step that involved action on their part?
• Foundation: By the call’s end, was the customer comfortable, open, and transparent with you?
Focus on the First “No” and Dig Deeper
Sales is a process. The steps above typically happen in order, and different calls each have a different focus.
On initial calls, we spend more time on Discover. Later calls spend more time on Build Value and/or Advance to keep the sales cycle moving. But the chronological order tells us we need to be good at Engage before we really worry about Discover, and so on.
If a customer is resistant to your call in the very beginning, they won’t really provide good answers to your questions. Then it will be impossible to Build Value in a recommendation or Advance. Look at the call chronologically and determine the first step that doesn’t have the desired result above. If it’s Engage, the focus should be your Engage competency – defined from above as your ability to get the customer to agree to the call and to your agenda. Now, the question is why? Which behavior is driving weakness in that area?
Don’t just pick one call. Listen to 5-6 randomly selected calls over a span of several days or a few weeks. See what’s in common. Then look for a trend in one area. Once you make that decision about which step you are going to focus on, dig a little deeper. What was the specific behavior you missed that led to the wrong result? Here are some common problems:
• Your stated reason for the call did not benefit the customer – “I want to learn more about …” benefits you, not them. Make sure they can see the potential benefit to them for taking your call.
• You asked a sales question in your intro “Would you be interested in …?” or “Can I explain our products?” confirm their suspicions – here comes a generic sales pitch. Just ask them if you could ask a few questions to see if a discussion at some point might make sense.
• You interrogate them. You have a lot of good, fancy, open questions that Marketing told you to ask. But you ask them one after the other, and you neither respond to the answers they give you nor do you clarify any details. That will make you seem like you are not interested in what they say and/or you are not listening – you are too worried about your next question. Instead, have a clear list of objectives of what you want to learn and keep the questions conversational.
• You pitch too early. Pity the customer if they show any interest, and they ask you a question: “Does your product do X?” Then you give it to them with both guns. “Yes it does, and here are five other things you should know.” Instead, just say, “Good question. Yes, (or no, or maybe, or it depends). I just need to know a little more to answer your question. “
• You don’t connect any benefits to what you learned about them. You just give the 3-4 main points in a canned pitch. If you directly connect one of those features to exactly how it addresses one of the needs you discussed, it will be easy for them to embrace how and why it is a good fit for them.
There are several more key behaviors that need to happen, but in my experience, these are some of the most common issues that cause less-than-effective sales calls.
Assign Yourself Homework
Now that you’ve made the right diagnosis, you can’t just think about getting better. You have to do something. Take action. What can you do before, during, and after your next calls to improve this behavior?
There are unlimited options for these activities. Come up with something that makes you think about the issue, learn how to improve, and then practice. Try some of these suggestions:
• Review the relevant material from your sales training program or a book on that topic.
• Write out what you are going to say on your next introduction (questions, benefits, etc.) and then try it out.
• Practice with someone else.
• Listen to the calls of one of your colleagues who’s strong in the area you need help.
• After your next ten calls, give yourself a rating in that area immediately after the call and explain why you did so.
• Check out our Movies Sell guide to find a clip that will help you learn something (and have fun!).
• Go to a store with sales reps to buy something, and see how they do it. Reflect on the impact their approach had on you – good or bad.
If you want to hold yourself accountable, involve someone else. Ideally, your manager is doing this whole process with you already. But if not, nothing is stopping you from doing it yourself and checking in with your manager, or peer, to help ensure you do it.
Repeat Until It’s a Habit
Once you complete a couple of homework assignments to help, review some more calls and see if the problem is fixed. If not, keep working. The worst thing you can do is move onto something else before it’s a habit and happens automatically.
Good sales people have good habits. They do things without having to think about them because you really don’t have time to think when you are talking to the customer. It has to be a habit. So keep working on that behavior until you’ve developed the right habit. Then, and only then, move on.
It won’t take long, and you’ll see a big change in your calls. With your increase in commission, you can treat yourself to a cool shower speaker. It will make you sound even better.
A few other helpful links in case you are wondering:
• If your company legal department wants to know if call recording is legal, point them there. (Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer): http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/recording-phone-calls-and-conversations
• Telephone adapter to record: http://www.amazon.com/TRX-20-Direct-Connect-Telephone-ADAPTER/dp/B000KL0XA6
• Digital recorder: http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-WS-100-Digital-Recorder-Interface/dp/B0009N9PJA/ref=sr_1_8?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1438599317&sr=1-8&keywords=digital+recorder&refinements=p_n_feature_keywords_browse-bin%3A4026905011%2Cp_72%3A1248879011%2Cp_36%3A1253504011
The best way to get to know us is to know what we value. If we teach it we live it, because what we do speaks far more eloquently than what we say. We’ll always choose people over profits, and we’re most fulfilled and effective when we serve. It drives our culture, frames our training programs and transforms the lives of the clients we partner with.