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About This Episode
It’s a modern workforce, and usually, that means technology.
But in our quest to pursue the convenience of technology we’ve neglected a powerful tool for sales conversations: the telephone. All of your efforts in sales should be driving more conversations because that’s what creates business.
“If you’re not good on the phone, you’re going to fail,” says Ryan Donohue, head of sales at FDAzilla. Ryan helps businesses regulated by the FDA (20% of the US economy) access the data needed to be better prepared for FDA inspections. As the leader of the sales team, he also trains new sales reps in pursuing excellent phone conversations.
So much of the workforce today is made up of people who have grown up with cell phones. They’re so comfortable with texting and email that they actually feel reluctant to use the phone for what it was originally designed to do: make phone calls.
Texts and emails are so much easier to manage because you have a safety barrier in response time. But when you pick up the phone, that barrier disappears between you and the other person, which can be pretty intimidating. When you’re so concerned about having all the knowledge, facts, and figures you might need for a conversation, making a phone call is terrifying.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Practice Makes Perfect When It Comes to Picking up the Phone
As the old adage says, practice makes perfect. The more you just pick up the phone and talk to people, the more comfortable you get, and the better sales rep you become. The first phone call will be the hardest. The second one will get a little bit easier and so on until it becomes second nature. But that never happens if you don’t start.
Ryan says, “The one thing I tell my reps is, ‘here’s the one thing you have to remember when you’re making calls: they cannot come through the phone and slap you. It’s physically impossible so don’t worry about that.’”
You’re going to screw up, everyone will. But the ones who screw up and learn from it and continue to execute despite it are the ones who come out better on the other side.
How Do You Build This?
Building a team of sales reps who are fearless when it comes to picking up the phone isn’t easy. It takes buy-in from your leadership team, consistency in training, and perseverance. Start with your leadership team and nail your niche then take into account these three things that help Ryan’s team:
1. Know your customer
You can’t build a training program if you haven’t yet built out your ICP (ideal customer profile) and customer personas. Once you’ve built that, you know exactly how to teach someone the messaging. They can actually carry out these conversations when they know who they’re talking to because they can align the messaging to the audience.
2. Build a playbook
Once you know your customer, it’s time to create a well thought out playbook for your reps. You’re going to retain maybe 50% of your training, so if you don’t have a designated place for sales reps to refer back to that they can study or review, it will be really hard to be successful. It’s that simple.
A playbook tells a sales rep: this is how you’re going to be successful on our team. It also shortens the amount of time it takes for someone to be up and running on their own. When it might typically take 6-9 months to be fully ramped up, with a good playbook it can be more like 90 days.
3. Tell them the backstory
Don’t just hand your sales reps a script and a playbook, give them the context. Walk them through it and explain why it’s written the way it’s written, why you chose that language, why these particular questions work, etc. Help them truly understand the why behind the creation of the scripts and the playbook.
At the end of the day, no matter how many tools you have, the million dollar question remains: how much are you willing to try? The people who are going to be good at this are the ones who pick up the phone and don’t let any amount of rejection bring them down. You have to be good at rejection; either you get around it or you get good at dealing with it.
So just do it. Just get in there and execute, you will get better as you go. The best way startups learn is by going out there and having conversations because, as we mentioned earlier, conversations create business. This week, stop hiding behind your email and watch how picking up the phone can transform your business.
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