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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the OPTIMAL SALES MINDSET Webinar hosted by Fred Diamond, Host of the Sales Game Changers Podcast, on August 13, 2020. It featured prospecting expert Nimit Bhatt of memoryBlue,]
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EPISODE 272: memoryBlue’s Nimit Bhatt Offers Three Powerful Tips That Will Eliminate Any Fear You Might Have When Telephone Prospecting for New Sales
NIMIT’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Tell a story when prospecting. First, take a long look at your value proposition and come up with a story to tell your prospects. Write out in your own words how you have solved a certain problem for a prospect before and then do that for another problem. Then call somebody that you called three weeks ago, they’re not going to remember you, and try to actually get curious with them. Tell that story and see if that can get you farther into the process.”
Fred Diamond: The topic of courage has come up frequently over the four weekly webcasts that we do at the Institute for Excellence in Sales and we’ve been talking about prospecting throughout and the concept of should you have the courage or how do you get the courage to prospect right now? So, I went to my good friend, Nimit Bhatt with memoryBlue. Nimit, let’s get started, the courage to make prospecting calls right now.
Nimit Bhatt: Let’s hop right in. First and foremost, it’s a very common challenge that people have, it’s something that people are afraid to do. It was 10 years ago now when I started making cold calls as an SDR, I was absolutely terrified to make these calls and it made me think, why are people scared in the first place? Where’s this fear of cold calling coming from? First, it’s just a naturally uncomfortable thing for people to do. Anytime someone has to do something that’s out of their comfort zone, the natural inclination is, “I don’t really want to do that” or they don’t really want to actually go down that path. It’s a very uncomfortable thing, it’s a very daunting thing to do if you think about it. You’re picking up the phone, you’re calling somebody who you’ve never spoken to before, they don’t know who you are, they’ve never heard of your company and in a fairly limited amount of time you have to convince them to hear you out and you have to find a problem.
Whatever the end result might be, your goal is to get to some type of next step with them so it’s just a natural uncomfortable thing to do for most people. I’ve hired reps that had experience selling door to door, bibles or solar panels or pest control services and they’re used to getting the door slammed in their face so for them, a cold call is like an upgrade. Like, “Wait, I don’t have to look anybody in the eye when I do this?” That’s the first thing, it’s just a natural uncomfortable thing to do, it’s a very human feeling to have, this fear of cold calling, the fear of the unknown of what’s going to happen. I think another reason why there’s this fear is when we make these calls, knowing that people generally don’t like to receive cold calls or sales calls in general that we’re going to be dealing with defensive prospects. People in their head are playing what-if scenarios, “What if this person is rude to me, what if they hang up on me, what if they yell at me? How do I handle that situation?” You’re running through a hundred different scenarios in your head and you can psyche yourself out a little bit with making these calls.
One that I come across often and especially for us, we’re making cold calls, we’re generating leads for our clients that are in the B to B technology space, oftentimes very complex technologies where I’d say 20% to 30% of our clients are in the cybersecurity space. The sales development reps that we have that are assigned to those campaigns, they’re calling prospects that have advanced degrees in cybersecurity. There’s this fear of, “I don’t want to call this person and start talking to them about their security environment and vulnerabilities in their security stack and then all of a sudden I’m trying to have this advanced level conversation, I’m not going to sound credible, I’m going to dig myself into a hole and I’m going to lose this opportunity, I’m not going to look that intelligent to this prospect.” There’s that fear of going into these calls that I’m not going to know enough, then I think there’s this fear that you have to be quick about it, there’s this clock that I think goes off in our minds every time these calls start that because we’re interrupting this person in the middle of their day, that we have to get out of that call as quickly as possible. When you’re in that mindset and you’re in that mind frame, what tends to happen is you start to try to close immediately or try to close very quickly or close way too early, and that can’t be good, you’re throwing Hail Mary’s in the first quarter. That’s where these fears are coming from. Fred, I don’t know what were some of your fears when you were cold calling.
Fred Diamond: All those make sense. We have a question that comes in here from Shirley, Shirley is in DC and she wants to know, “What about the volume? I’m afraid of not making enough calls.” That’s an interesting thing. When people think of cold calling they think, “I’ve got to make a hundred a day” or, “If I don’t make a hundred I’m going to get dinged by my boss” and that’s one of the metrics that might not even make sense, it’s the race against the internal clock. It’s like, “If I don’t get to all my cold calls today, I’m not going to be successful” so that also comes up as well, right?
Nimit Bhatt: Absolutely, and that’s a perfect segue into my first takeaway for getting over this fear. Shirley, go buy a lottery ticket today, I think you’re seeing to the future. First and foremost, you have to make more calls. If you want to build the courage, you have to make more calls. I don’t think salespeople are making enough and cold calling is not like riding a bike, I would equate cold calling to more like weight lifting, you could spend time building up your strength and building up to be able to lift a certain amount of weight but if you stop for a few weeks or a few months and you come back to it, you’re not going to be able to pick up where you left off. You’re going to have to build up that strength again most likely and cold calling is the same way. It’s almost like clockwork, every few months I come across an article on LinkedIn saying that cold calling is dead and I think those types of studies come out because salespeople in general are just making fewer calls. It brings up some interesting data, with our company we have 140 to 150 sales development reps that we have sitting in one of our five offices across the country. They’re generating leads on behalf of their clients and they’re doing everything, they’re making the phone calls, they’re sending the emails, they’re doing the LinkedIn social selling but we do have a call first mentality. In the course of the day, they’re making anywhere from 70 to 100+ calls and the clients that they’re calling on behalf of, Fred, they’re targeting the SMB, they’re targeting they’re targeting [Unintelligible 08:10], they’re targeting enterprise.
A metric that we look closely at is as we’re scheduling thousands of meetings a month, how many of those meetings are coming over the phone, how many are coming over email and how many are coming from LinkedIn? Those are the three sources that these meetings would come from. We turn back the clock to March which feels like a decade ago, that was really when COVID took over. It was that weekend where the majority of Americans made the migration from working in the office to working from home. We looked at this data of these thousands upon thousands of cold calls and emails and LinkedIn messages and these thousands of meetings that were being booked, where were they coming from?
In March we saw that almost 70% of the meetings that we were booking for our clients were coming over the phone. If you look at that data from last year of March it was like 71% so it was roughly the same, so we didn’t see too much of a change. Fast-forward to April of this year, that was the first full month and there’s lot of skepticism, there’s this period of mass disruption, mass uncertainty, there’s a lot going on and roles are changing, people are moving jobs. While we did definitely experience a decrease in our connection rate and a slight decrease in the number of meetings we were booking, we were still booking them over the phone, we’re having more conversations and that really continued throughout the summer. The point here being is cold calling in itself is not a lost art, I think business is still being done over the phone and in your sales position if you’re sending a lot of emails, make sure you incorporate some more phone calls into it and get good at it. It is a skill that is highly sought after and I know because I’ve interviewed hundreds of thousands of sales reps, it is a highly sought after skill to have to be able to have these conversations. Some takeaways here in terms of your overall strategy, I’m going to talk about strategy, I’m going to talk about some actual tactical things that you can do.
Incorporating a call-first mindset and more phone touches into your cadence. I’ve always been a big believer in the first step of any outbound cadence has to be a phone call. Phone call, leave a voice mail and then send an email in that order. On the topic of voicemails, I think voicemails are one of the most underrated things that a salesperson can do. If you’re talking about building the courage, you have to talk about becoming more comfortable having these conversations and talking about your solution, that’s what’s going to help you build the courage.
A really good way to do that is to leave voicemails because if you really think about it, what’s a voicemail? A voicemail is basically you’re delivering your opening statement, if that prospect picked up the phone you would tell them your name, you would tell them the company you’re calling from and you would tell them why you’re calling. Your voicemail is just going to be a little bit different, you’re going to add some things in there but as you do it and you get better at doing it and you repeat it, when you actually do get in that conversation you’re going to have that conversation. I think you’re going to be very comfortable in that conversation because you have been practicing a lot as you make your calls. Then with that, we call it hand jamming where you physically push buttons on your phone to make dials. If that’s the way you’re approaching it, that could be a reason that you have a low connection rate, I highly suggest looking into some type of dialing technology.
We use a company called FrontSpin that helps us make more dials, make them faster leveraging really awesome technology like local presence dialing. If my area code is 512, I’m calling Fred, and Fred’s area code is 703 in Virginia. When my phone number shows up on his phone it’s going to be a 703 area code which increases the chances that they’re going to pick up. Don’t be afraid to call cell phones, I think especially now that we’re five or six months into this thing, people are working from home, most people have already forwarded their desk line to their cell phone and they’re just relying on their personal cell phone more often as their work device. So don’t be afraid to call their cell phone and we even text prospects sometimes once we build a little bit of rapport with them. Fred, I know you’re a believer in that too, [cold calling] is a way to keep business going and to have those conversations.
Fred Diamond: I want to make two quick observations. Again, I’ve been running the Institute for Excellence in Sales for about 7-8 years now and people always ask me, “What is the main thing you learned or what is the #1 lesson?”, “What is the best tool?” Ladies and gentlemen, it really is this and if you don’t work for a company that’s as sophisticated as memoryBlue or some of the companies that we have watching today’s webcast, if you’re like a solo-preneur or you’re the sales leader of a small company, the phone is the most important thing. Your first point was so critical, you’ve got to make more phone calls, you’ve got to get more engagement because this is what will open the door for you to have conversations with more people. Nimit, we have a lot of people here who are on the line, you’re probably going to get to some of this content later on but we have a couple of questions coming in if you don’t mind.
Nimit Bhatt: Sure.
Fred Diamond: A question here comes from Marcel and Marcel looks like he’s up in Boston, thanks, Marcel. The question from Marcel is, “What is the best time to call being that most people are home now?” That’s interesting, people are going back into the office but not really, most people are still home. We did a poll of our members recently and 80% said they’re not going to be in the office until January so we know that people are probably home. People are “busier” than ever because people are scheduling things left and right but what is your recommendation for the best time to make phone calls?
Nimit Bhatt: That’s a very good question. You’re talking about typical office hours so think about 9 to 5 or just throughout the day, you’re seeing more and more of this mindset of keeping work and life balance and keeping separate times and strict times that you’re going to be working because work from home can definitely blur those lines and you find people working later into the day. The morning hours that are best are going to be 8:30 to 10:00 – local time to the prospect – or later in the day like 3:30 to 5:00 or 2:30 to 4:00. That’s the way that we do it at memoryBlue, we have two call blitzes a day each for 90 minutes and that’s where everyone’s on the phone making their calls.
We’ve found in terms of times of the day those to be the best but if there’s a certain prospect that you’re pretty far into the cadence with, maybe you’re on touch 8 or 9 for the particular prospect or maybe even earlier than that, you can try calling at different times of the day to switch things up. Just make sure you’re not calling the same person always in the morning, try different parts of the day. When you talk about day of the week, I think it’s pretty much a solid bell curve throughout the week. You have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then it drops off a little bit on Fridays. You can find content out there that talks about Manic Mondays – don’t call people on Mondays – and then Terrible Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are typically the best days to talk, that’s when people are really the most engaged throughout the week. But we’ve seen a lot of success actually on Friday afternoons, people are wrapping up their week, they’re generally in a better mood because the weekend’s coming up and people will save the tasks that don’t require as much thinking or much brainpower to the end of the week to ramp things down. That’s a good time that we’ve personally seen success towards the end of the week as well.
Fred Diamond: It’s interesting, if you keep justifying, “You can’t call on Mondays because everyone’s back and you can’t call on Tuesday because everyone has meetings…” next thing you know there’s an hour, Wednesday at midnight, when you have the time to call. We have another question coming in here and you’re probably going to get to this, but the question comes from Brett. Now that everybody has discovered Zoom and everybody has gotten a little more comfortable with the video, his question here, I’m going to read it directly so don’t get confused. “We’ve been experimenting with video messaging outreach through email to get some attention. What is your experience, Nimit, with video messaging and are there any learnings or insights?” Brett, thank you for the question.
Nimit Bhatt: The video outreach, that’s definitely newer. Personally, I’m not too familiar, we haven’t done too much with it. It is on the rise and I’ve seen a lot of organizations use it very successfully, I think a lot of it depends on the prospect you’re reaching out to, the market you’re reaching into but I think it’s a great way to bring that human element into it. It does grab their attention and it does increase the likelihood that they’re going to click into it, we’ve had some clients test it out with varying success, but I wish I had more data on that. It definitely seems like in the next few years that is going to be another method of outreach. What I would recommend with something like that is to really save that for prospects that are the perfect fit, I wouldn’t do that for every single person on your list because it is very time-consuming. I have gotten a few of them and it definitely gets me to open the email and to view it because sometimes they’ll hold a sign up with my name on it on the video and it’s like they actually took the time to do that. I hope I answered your question, it really does depend on the industry that you’re calling into and how receptive they are to those types of things.
Fred Diamond: Nimit, I have one more question before you move onto the next slide and this question here comes from Lucille, and Lucille is in Pennsylvania, thank you, Lucille. Her question is, “What should be considered success in prospecting via the phone?” That’s a great question, we mentioned before that some companies want their people to make a hundred phone calls a day. You’ve been working with sales development reps, BDRs for the last 8 years that you’ve been at memoryBlue, you guys have made millions of phone calls. A lot of people get discouraged when they get a hang-up and something we talked about at the very beginning of why people don’t like to make prospecting. Talk a little bit about what you think success would be so that people don’t eventually say, “This isn’t going to work, I can’t get through” or, “Nobody’s taking my calls”.
Nimit Bhatt: I love this question. On paper, the end result of an initial cold call at least for us, for top of the funnel pipeline generation is going to be to qualify that prospect, that you determine that they’re a decision-maker or whatever your qualification standards are and that you schedule that follow-up meeting with someone who’s going to take the prospect the rest of the buying cycle and ideally close that deal. That is, on paper, the success of these calls. What I told SDRs is sometimes getting the no is a success, if you’ve properly qualified somebody and you’ve disqualified them because you actually were curious, you took them through a proper discovery and you determined that they’re not a good fit, that’s also really good data too. That is success in a way because you actually showed that you have the discipline to get a prospect on the phone and not just try to book a meeting for the sake of booking them, that you’re actually being a sales professional about it capturing the data that you have on the call. If there’s a certain objection maybe related to the actual technology that you’re selling that you always run into, getting that objection often can be seen as success in a way because as long as you’re gathering information, that’s information you can take to your product team or you can take to one part of the organization saying, “I’m running into this, there’s a certain API that we don’t have integration with behind a lot of prospects.
Over the past three months, I’ve talked to 57 prospects who said that that’s where the conversation ended because we don’t have an integration with a certain API.” I always tell SDRs, “Capture what people are saying, capture the objections that you’re hearing.” Lastly, I see success as you’re becoming a better salesperson because of the conversations you’re having and you’re learning from your mistakes. That’s success right there, that’s going to make you a better salesperson. Obviously you want to get the meeting booked and that’s the overall goal and that’s probably what’s driving your compensation, the meetings will come. As long as you focus on the right things and you work on getting better and you’re making more of these calls, the meetings will come. You have to look for success in other areas because you’re right, it can be incredibly discouraging if you have a single goal of booking meetings not looking at the big picture.
Fred Diamond: I know you have a lot more to cover. We have one more question here that came in, a question comes in from Marty in Atlanta. Hey, Marty, thanks for chiming in. Marty’s question is, “How should I be on the phone? Should I be fast-talking and smooth or should I just be my normal calm self?” That’s an interesting question, you mentioned in the very beginning that people feel there’s this internal clock, what’s your advice there? I guess the ultimate answer is to be yourself and get into your own rhythm but do you need to be a quick talker because you want to get all of the things out? Do you want to be a buddy like, “How was your weekend?” What is your advice? I think one of the key things here is if you get comfortable engaging in conversations to get past the fear of that, that’ll lead to a lot more success but just curiously, for the people who still might be afraid of picking up the phone and dialing, what’s your advice on that?
Nimit Bhatt: I suggest being yourself because if you try to be somebody else it’s only going to backfire on you, but you bring up a good point in that tone matching is a real thing and something that obviously you won’t be able to get into until you actually get farther into the conversation. But if you do have a prospect that’s speaking a little bit faster then you might want to consider picking up the pace a little bit. What we find is a lot of times when we’re prospecting into the northeast we find there are people that are talking a lot faster and we have to tone match to that, in a sense. At the same time when we’re prospecting to the south and the southeast, we find that because it’s just more southern hospitality, you’ve got some of the southern drawl, you have a more relaxed tone, we have people that have to tone match to that. Initially, I would be yourself but definitely be mindful of what people sound like on the other end and try to match that, you don’t have to mimic them exactly but if they’re picking up the pace, consider picking up the pace. If they’re slowing down, the last thing you want to do is talk fast. These are great questions, please keep them coming in and hopefully I’m going to be able to answer some more of your questions as I go through some more of the slides.
We talked about making more calls and I didn’t mean to be captain obvious right out of the gate, but if you want to get better at cold calling you have to make more calls. Let’s talk about what happens when you get into the call. I have seen this word, empathy, come up more times in the past few months than I ever have in the 8 years that I’ve been in sales. It’s a word that’s come up quite a bit, empathy is not a new technique by any means, it’s not a new topic that’s discussed in sales. What empathy really is is this acknowledgment that you understand what the prospect is saying. One thing that we talk to our SDRs about is when they’re having these calls, you should be using language like, “That makes sense”, “I completely understand what you mean”, “I hear you”, “I get where you’re coming from.” Injecting that type of language shows the prospect that you genuinely care, it can make the call not sound like a sales call because you’re not trying to push them into a meeting or a demo or fill something out or sign up or anything like that. You’re actually taking the time to hear them out, to hear their concerns and you make them feel better in a way by saying, “I hear what you mean, I’ve actually heard other people say that.”
When I go back to the fears that people have, one of them was the defensive prospect. Every prospect, as soon as they sniff that it’s a sales call, they’re going to have their shields up, they’re going to be ready to go to war with you. By injecting some empathy, it differentiates you and it also gets the prospect to lower their shield a little bit. You might have seen it as the feel-felt-found technique, this has been in sales forever but it’s, “I understand how you feel, others have felt the same, we found this.” Injecting that type of language is going to soften the call. Just the word “cold call” is such a harsh word, we want to soften these calls up because that’s going to make you feel more confident. It’s going to help you build that courage to make more of these calls and actually make them fun when you can soften up the calls and make them feel more conversational versus being the pushy salesperson or the assertive salesperson going on this call. An example when it comes to empathy, especially now we’re hearing the, “We have no budget right now” and that’s an age-old objection that salespeople have gotten for many years. Typically and historically it’s been what we call a brush-off objection, there are a few of them, “Send me an email”, “Right now’s a bad time”, “Call me later”, “I’m about to walk into a meeting” at 12 minutes past the hour, these are all brush-off objections.
What you want to first identify and what we teach our SDRs and our memoryBlue Academy is you don’t want to be combative with the objections, you want to understand if it’s a real objection first so asking about that. Especially now in the economy that we’re in, a budget objection can actually be very real so asking questions about that to truly understand what they mean, “When do you typically evaluate? When you say budgets are frozen, what does that really mean?” Then say, “I completely understand, a lot of other Directors of Marketing that I’ve spoken with at similar companies to yours have actually told me the same thing, but what we found is it can make sense to have these conversations now so you’re ahead of the curve when budgets do open up again.” It’s something off the top of my head but injecting that type of empathy can actually show that you do hear them, you hear it a lot and it’s a way to soften the call up again. We have one of our SDRs that used it recently on a call and he’s selling a recruiting software, it’s this AI that allows companies to better keep track of their candidates throughout the recruiting process. A lot of companies he’s calling into, they’re experiencing hiring freezes so it doesn’t really make sense for them to bring on a solution, so injecting some language around, “Yes, I totally get that, I totally understand that, a lot of people have been running into that problem.
Given how competitive your industry is, we’ve found that really does put a pressure on people in your position and our ability to…” and then insert value prop. It makes the conversation feel like you’re actually hearing them out, that you’re actually taking what they’re saying and applying it and nurturing that prospect a little bit more. The last thing I’ll say about empathy – and I’ll be glad to take any questions that come in about empathy – is that we are seeing a shift. The SDR, BDR role, if you’re listening into this and you’re a person that your job is to make the call, qualify the prospect and then hand it off to somebody else who’s going to then take that prospect and close them, if I look back to 10 years ago it was very much, “Get in there, qualify, build some pain and get out.” It was really that, but what we’re seeing now is that there’s more time being spent at the top of the funnel, it’s no longer about getting in there and then passing it over as quickly as possible.
We’re starting to see SDRs, the entry-level roles, spending more time on these calls actually developing pain, actually building rapport and using empathy and turning these with the mindset being, “This has to be a short-term opportunity if I’m an SDR.” It’s actually, “No, I can actually nurture this prospect a little bit more because that’s going to increase the likelihood that they’re going to be engaging with my company once I get it to the next step of the process.” We’re seeing especially over the past few months the one call closes going away a little bit and we’re seeing more of nurturing these processes. When I shared that data earlier about where the meetings were coming from, we definitely experienced a hit in our connection rate because of COVID, it’s a disruptive time plus it’s the summer and summers are historically a tougher time to reach prospects.
We saw that our conversion rates were actually increasing so the conversations we were having were actually converting into meetings, we booked meetings but our talk time went up pretty significantly which shows that our SDRs are having more conversations. It’s crazy to think that somebody at the beginning of the sales cycle is having these types of conversations because at least for me it was always, “I’m not the AE worried about building rapport and I’m not worried about them doing the empathy and really nurturing the prospect.” We’re actually seeing a little bit of a shift with the SDR, BDR role being more of that empathetic seller. Using empathy, there’s no shortage of content out there that people can refer to talk more about that. I just saw an article yesterday from the CEO of ringDNA who put out an article, I think it was on Crunchbase, talking about genuine empathy, fake empathy and how a salesperson can actually use that to their advantage. It’s a great read for people to check out.
Fred Diamond: You talk about empathy, there’s three big words that have come up over the course of the daily webcast that we’re doing: courage, of course, as the title of today and mindset but also empathy. I know you have a lot more content to get to, I have another question here as it relates to empathy and then we’ll move on a little bit. You mentioned the top of the funnel conversations being a little longer, more drawn-out as well. Are you encouraging people at the top of the funnel to talk about today’s situation? Meaning, “How’s your family doing during COVID?” We’re finding that a lot of people are willing to have more conversations right now. People are stuck looking at their screen, they’re looking at Zoom meetings, a lot of companies have scheduled more internal meetings because they wanted to stay in contact with your people. Are you finding your people are having more of those, “How are you? I understand your kids are home” or beyond the empathy from the perspective of Tyler right here which is, “I understand where you are in the competitive situation”?
Nimit Bhatt: These are great questions, please keep them coming in. If you asked me that question three months ago I would say, “Absolutely, start talking about that” but I think now that we’re almost 6 months into this, the dust has settled for the most part. I think everyone buckled in and going strong so I would say for initial call it’s not necessary, it’d be a little bit of a distraction, it can come off as not genuine. Actually, the article that I was talking about from the CEO of ringDNA, he actually talks about how he’s hearing a lot of reps using that but no making it sound genuine enough which can hurt you when it comes to these calls. You don’t have to really force it, I would stick to more of empathy, at least that’s what we’re telling our SDRs, just around typical objections that you’re going to hear and people’s current situations. I would save that for a little bit further into the process but if you’re building rapport with that person, you’ve got to hit it off. There are prospects that I’ve spoken to that I never spoke to before that you just hit it off with this person, it can come up and as long as you deliver it in a genuine way I think it’s appropriate. But I don’t think people are expecting it as much anymore now that we’re a few months in, if that helps.
Since we only have about 10 minutes left I’m going to go through the rest of these slides here, I’ve got three more points that I want to make and then we’ll have time to answer any questions. Being a storyteller, this is one that I’m very passionate about and you’re actually starting to see this a lot more when it comes to sales training and sales content, of becoming a storyteller on these calls. Last year I attended Forester’s last Sirius Decisions, they had their annual conference and they had a session that was about the future vision of sales, where do they see the B to B sales rep, what do they see them looking like in a few years? Three things jumped out to me: one, being an empathetic partner, we already talked about using empathy, storytelling mastery, the ability to tell prospects of what you do in a form of a story and how you’ve done it before and also sharing deep insights as you do that, talking about statistics. Prospects overall don’t really care about what you do in terms of a feature, “These are all the things that we can do for you”, they care about what you’ve done and ideally, for companies like theirs.
I think a lot of salespeople, at least some calls that I’ve heard, they’re trying to get into conversations with prospects about how the engine is built instead of telling a story about how the safety features of it saved a family from a horrible accident. People get drawn into stories, you think about the obsession that people have now with podcasts and murder mysteries and shows on Netflix, it’s because the story is drawing us in. So why not do that as a salesperson? Why not turn your value prop or turn what you do into a story of how you’ve done it? That’s what people want to hear, that’s what people are craving to hear now. An example, instead of just listing off the features and how you can help them, talk about how you helped a company similar to theirs. An example, let’s say you’re targeting a company similar to Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola is of your customers, you can talk about – actually, with Coca-Cola you don’t have to name-drop the company – “We gave them the ability to do X, Y and Z so they could do it this way and it saved them a whole lot of time.”
Being a storyteller is really key and that’s the one takeaway that I’m going to give to people here is start telling more stories. Find stories that you can tell to prospects and have a few of them ready to go, it’s going to make you feel a whole lot more comfortable. You know how people say when you learn a new skill or you learn a new topic you fully internalize that skill or that topic when you’re able to teach somebody else? I think this is the exact same thing, there’s an analogy there where you fully understand what your technology does when you’re able to tell a story about it. It doesn’t have to be a story of how you helped somebody, it could be a story about why the company exists channeling the Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”. Telling more stories on these calls is going to make you feel more comfortable because you’re not reading off a script, you’re telling a story in your own words and you’re going to feel way more comfortable doing it. It will allow you to steer clear of those very technical conversations that just turn into you burying yourself into a hole that’s tough to dig up.
Being a storyteller is really big and when it comes to what drives that conversation, “How do I know which story to tell?”, you’ve got to ask a lot more questions, you have to get curious with these prospects. Asking questions gives you more control of the conversation, it gives you the driver’s seat, you’re going to be steering that conversation and based on your questions you can guide them to a potential pain point. Think about the use cases for your technology, “I’m going to ask questions to this prospect to guide them towards one of those use cases so that then I can tell a story about how we helped them with that exact problem.” Gong who has been in the news this week after a massive round of funding, they’re a call coaching software so they take recordings of calls and analyze them, it spits out these insights. They analyzed over half a million sales calls and they found that when the salesperson was asking somewhere between 11 and 14 questions, they saw 74% success rate in terms of getting next steps out of the call. I was actually blown away when I saw this, I thought it would be less than that. 11 to 14 would take a lot of conversations but this just means we have to be asking more questions, asking open-ended questions to keep a conversation going. If you ask too many close-ended ‘yes or no’ questions or questions that can be answered with one word, it can sound survey-ish.
When you talk about your discovery, the discovery part of the call is like 60%-70% of your cold call, you have to be asking questions. It softens the conversation because it makes it come off more genuine that you actually care, that the purpose of this call is not to try to push this solution onto you, it’s to actually understand how you’re doing things today and trying to take more of a consultative approach to how I can solve your problem. Then pain funnel questions, that’s really where you get into it with the prospect when a potential problem comes up and you ask questions like, “Why is that?”, “How long has that been happening?”, “What have you done to try and fix that problem?” that second or third level pain. Telling stories that are driven by questions that you’re asking them.
I always like using this example with SDR, it’s like when you go to the doctor’s office and whatever issue you have, they don’t just write you a prescription right away, that’s malpractice. They actually take time to ask you questions about your pain, about your problem and based on your answers, they offer a diagnose and a prescription to that. They don’t just throw a bunch of buzz words at you, I say to people, “We don’t want to throw a bunch of buzz words because we get into difficult conversations.” They tell you a story about this potential problem that you’re having, they might exhibit some empathy with that and say something like, “Based on your age, it’s not uncommon to have these problems and I’ve seen the same in other people like you and we found that with the proper treatment and medication that it can be resolved in 2 or 3 weeks” or something like that. Making sure that when you’re getting curious you’re diagnosing before prescribing.
Fred Diamond: Nimit, we have a couple other questions that are coming in here, I know we’re going to be winding up here in a second or two, so we have time for one more question before we get to your final thought. I’m going to read this question, this is something that you’re an expert in as well, it comes from John and John is in the DC region as well. “My question is about call cadence. What is a typical call volume to make? I realize it’s subjective but there’s a thin line between providing value and becoming annoying. What are your recommendations for a call cadence when you haven’t connected?” That’s a really good question, John. The question that comes up is hopefully that we’re talking to someone who we’ll find information about, either that they are a prospect or they’re not a prospect but like he said, if you’re calling 10 times a day, even if you’re the best prospect in the world and I need you’re software, I’m probably going to find you annoying and not take your call again. What are some of your recommendations on that?
Nimit Bhatt: A proper modern cadence is going to incorporate phone, email and it’s going to incorporate some type of social LinkedIn. It’s going to vary, it can take up to 18 touches to get to a prospect but we always like space them out where your initial call you leave a voicemail and every time you leave a voicemail you follow up with an email. That in itself, you might be able to get some type of response that either continues them through the funnel or knocks them out. Then maybe day 2 you like something on their LinkedIn, a post or maybe you comment on something that you find on their LinkedIn or their company’s page. Then day 3 maybe make another call but this time you don’t leave a voice mail, you’re just calling to get some volume, maybe try to get a couple conversations and then the day after that, you might send them a message on LinkedIn.
You want to space it out, you definitely don’t want to call people multiple times throughout the day but it’s really going to depend. We have some clients where because we’re targeting the enterprise we really have to draw out a 3 or 4 week long cadence that incorporates all those things. But don’t underestimate the power of social, of just adding that prospect on LinkedIn and then they accept and you can send them a note or you can tag them in some post, you can comment on some of their content. You’re trying to get some type of response, some kind of action and then with the voice mails as well it’s almost simple messaging in a way because you’re leaving your name and your company’s name so overtime they might become more familiar with you. I would space the calls out and I would make sure that you change up when you’re calling that prospect, you’re not always calling them Tuesday morning between 9:00 and 10:00, that you do switch it up and try other times to try to reach them.
Fred Diamond: Once again, Nimit Bhatt, you’ve given such great information today, I want to thank you, I want to thank our good friends at memoryBlue, Marc and Chris and Kristen and the whole team. I want to thank everybody who’s watched today’s webcast. Nimit, I want to ask you for your final thought, I know you have some other things to get to but we’ll get you back on the show if you’re available.
Nimit Bhatt: Yeah, let’s do it [laughs].
Fred Diamond: We’re doing daily webcasts every single day, thank you to all the people who were here. Nimit, give us one final thought and action step, one final thing that they need to take action on today.
Nimit Bhatt: Last thing that I was going to touch on was actually breaking down your calls and coaching your calls, that in itself is a really good takeaway but I think the one thing that you can apply today is take a look at your value prop. Look at what your solution does from a technical standpoint or whatever the value prop, the differentiator and try to come up with a story to be able to tell that to your prospects. Feel free, you can call me and test it on me if you want, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn, I’m pretty easy to find. Take the action item of actually writing out in your own words how your solution has helped, it could be a customer, it could be a prospect but talk about how you’ve actually solved a certain problem for a prospect before and then do that for maybe another problem. If you sell a solution that has multiple use cases, come up with one for each use case and then next time you’re on a call, I suggest call your hardest prospect or call somebody that maybe you called three weeks ago, they’re not going to remember you, and try to actually get curious with them. Lead them to one of those use cases, then tell that story and see if that can get you farther into the process.
Fred Diamond: Take care.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo