5 ways to turn telesales calls into consultative selling conversations

Generating sales leads from cold calls isn’t easy. And in many ways, inside sales is getting tougher.

Fewer people, especially younger executives and buyers are willing to take cold calls. Gatekeepers are just as watchful as ever. Hustling, hard work and persistence is the name of the game when it comes to inside sales. Many inside sales executives need to use a mix of phone calls, emails and social media interactions to get a decision maker on the phone.

So when you do have a decision maker on the phone, or you were lucky and they picked up the first time . . . what do you say? How do you turn this opportunity into a consultative selling conversation? Here are five ways you can make the most of every cold call:

#1: Start on a positive note

Tired. Stressed. Busy. Sounds like a day in the life of a salesperson. That might be fun and games for your Instagram or Snapchat story, but you want to make a good impression: start with a positive opener.

It almost doesn’t matter what it is, just have something ready. It could be the weather, sports, the weekend (the previous or the one to come), holidays, or a safe opener that encourages a potential buyer to talk about why you’ve called them: “How’s business?”

Talking about business/work, after something positive, is a gateway towards where the problems are and crucially, how you can solve them. If you’ve got them talking and the conversation is going well then this is an effective way into the reason you’ve called. Remember: this is still a cold call and they’re probably not wanting to stay on the phone too long.

#2: Do your homework

After a dozen or more unsuccessful calls - when you can’t even get past the gatekeeper or voicemail - you might get a little dial crazy. So when someone says, “Now is a good time to talk,” you aren’t sure what to say. Or worse, you dive into a scripted sales pitch instead of building a rapport, asking questions and listening. Unless you’ve got a great pitch, and they’re interested, and they’re ready to buy, they’re not going to call you back after that.

Before picking up the phone, know who you want to speak to, their role, and enough about the company to ask the right questions. Never go in without some knowledge.

#3: Don’t bad-mouth the competition

It can be tempting, especially if you know your competition isn’t up to scratch. But the moment you say something bad about them is the moment a potential sales lead puts those negative traits onto your company. It is known as spontaneous trait transference, and best avoided, if you want the conversation to go smoothly.

Now, if they open the door on a competitors reputation; e.g. “I’ve heard a few bad things about X”, it wouldn’t hurt to agree. People like it when others agree. Defending a negative reputation doesn’t help anyone either, but don’t pile in and use the opportunity to do further damage. It won’t help the call.

#4: Put the problem at the centre of the solution

As an inside sales executive, your main problem is selling more of your companies products or services. Potential clients don’t care about that. They’ve got their own problems.

After you’ve done your homework and got a potential buyer on the phone, you need to find out what problem your products/services can solve. Start with, “How’s business?”, or some variation of it, and use a combination of open and closed questions to find if there is a solution you can deliver.

Ask about aims and objectives, what their plans are, and if you know they’re with a particular supplier for a service you can deliver, then find out what might make them switch. See if there are shortcomings or features that would make them consider you over the competition.

#5: Qualify the lead

Assuming they’re interested to hear more, this is a wonderful opportunity to demo your product. Don’t schedule something for the future. If they have the time, jump straight into an instant demo. Show them the solution.

Give them a chance to ask questions and find out more. It is also your chance to find out how soon they might need your solution, if there is a budget, what next steps might look like. The last thing you want is to put a meeting on your calendar only to find they’re not a viable lead, or the person only answered a call because they were bored.

With an instant demo, you can quickly find out if they’re genuinely interested and plan what happens next. Best of luck on your next sales call!