In the Phone Prospecting blog entry, we talked about different techniques on how to do phone prospecting efficiently and effectively and how to leave compelling voice messages which will prompt people to call us back. So, what can we do when a prospect answers the phone and gives us answers like “I’m not interested”, ““I don’t have time right now”, or “we’ve been with your competitor for many years and they do a great job for us, we are happy.”
Regardless of the phrase they’re using, the intent is the same. They are communicating that they are not interested and would like to not be bothered. For cases like this, a salesperson can use turn around scripts that are practiced and ready to be used. When practicing these scripts, pay attention to special voice intonations, making sure you sound relaxed, authentic and professional. Being practiced and professional in your delivery is essential because when you already know what you’re going to say you will be able to control the call and will feel empowered as well.
You may have noticed that people who speak in public and choose to do so without scripts, will likely stumble to find their words. The same would apply when making a sales call. Using a script for calls can often feel like the call is too robotic or doesn’t seem sincere. So many salespeople like to wing it and stay away from using scripts. This isn’t always the best way to manage sales calls. Using scripts doesn’t have to make you sound robotic and when done well, will not sound scripted at all. The key to using scripts successfully is to rehearse and practice. If you devote the time to rehearsing, your calls will sound professional and natural.
We use turnaround scripts to disrupt a potential client’s expectations and thought patterns when they are pushing back on you with a rejection. Using a disruptive statement or a question can turn them around and make it more likely that they will be doing business with you. A disrupter is an action or phrase that will catch their attention because it’s unexpected. This technique works because when people are presented with a disruptor, it stops the customer’s thoughts in their tracks. We refer to this as the pull versus push process.
In previous blog posts we’ve established that the initial physiological and emotional fight or flight response to rejection it’s something involuntary that most humans experience, but that we can take control of that emotion triggered by rejection if we choose to. It’s all about giving our logical brains a chance to catch up. If we were in the forest and a bear suddenly walked out in front of us the physiological reaction to the threat is the exact same response that we feel when we get rejected.
There are three elements to this process: anchor, disrupt, and ask.
As we previously covered, our amygdala in the brain is hard-wired to prepare us to survive, but it cannot differentiate between a real danger like being confronted with a bear, or a fake danger like being rejected. Lucky for us, another part of the brain, the neocortex can make this difference. The problem is that our fight or flight impulse kicks in much faster than logic, so we will need a few seconds for our brain to catch up and signal to the amygdala that there is no real threat. Allowing our brains to catch up is the purpose of anchoring: it gives our reactive brain something to hold onto until our logical brain catches up, takes over and manages the disruptive emotions that were generated by being rejected. Anchoring will enable us to have control of the conversation. We want to be able to anchor ourselves long enough to allow our brains to catch up with the emotions associated with rejection.
The next step is to disrupt. Being able to successfully disrupt the direction of a conversation is essential because our prospects have been conditioned to expect certain behaviors based on what every other salesperson exposed them to, and because of that conditioning, they are ready for a fight. The secret to turning around the prospect’s mindset is to not give them what they expect. Turn that expectation around with a statement or a question that will break that expectation. As an example, when a prospect says “we’re not interested, we’re happy with what we have”, instead of saying that you have ways to make them even happier if they will just give you a chance, which based on experience is exactly what they are expecting, you can say something unexpected like: “I’m so glad to hear that you are happy and if you’re happy, you shouldn’t even think about changing!” – Saying something like this will catch them by surprise because they would never anticipate that kind of a statement from a salesperson who just called them and interrupted their day.
As another example, when the prospect says they’re busy and they don’t have time, instead of telling them how it will only take a minute, you can say something like: “I anticipated that you might be busy.” In this case, affirming what they said will break their thought pattern.
How about when a prospect says: “I don’t have time right now, just send me some information”, you reply with : “Can you tell me specifically what you are looking for? I want to send you information that will meet your needs” – Asking a question like and acknowledging you are sensitive to their needs, will call their bluff and force them into further engagement with you. When they say “I’m not interested” – you can reply with “I hear you. Most people express that they aren’t interested.” – this will surprise them because their brain is not ready for you to acknowledge their position.
You can personalize your responses and make them your own. It’s important to avoid responding with “I understand”. You know why? Because you don’t truly understand where they are coming from. An upfront rejection is usually an automatic response when a prospect gets a call from someone trying to sell them something. “I understand” is what every other salesperson says to them. It just sounds insincere.
Now that you know how to turn the conversation around, how to anchor yourself, how to surprise the person by agreeing with them or telling them something they’re not expecting, it’s time to approach the sale again and ask them for commitment. Taking advantage of the anchor, disrupt and ask process only works if you re-focus on the reason for your call and ask for this commitment with confidence. Asking for commitment must be done without hesitation or awkward pauses, directly following your turnaround script. It is also important to be prepared for another rejection or objection. If that should happen, you can attempt to respond just like you did the first time around, but let your instinct and common sense lead you, because if you turn it around the second time and still do not receive the commitment you’re looking for, you may want to move on to your next prospect or come back to them another day.
Let’s look at some practical examples:
Salesperson Alex has called prospective client, Nate: After you do the opening statements and you pause for them to answer, let’s assume they say: “ Look Alex, I am really busy right now”, to which you can reply “ Nate, I anticipated that you might be busy” – this is an anchor statement which gives your logical brain a moment to take control again of the conversation and immediately disrupts the expectation that you will try and talk him out of being busy. Continue by saying: “I figured you would be busy so let’s see if we can find a time that it’s more convenient for you. “ This statement acknowledges that the prospect is busy right now and breaks the pattern by asking him to think about a more convenient time. Continue with: “How about we get together next Wednesday at 1:00 PM instead?” – This way you are making an assumptive, direct and specific request. The time you suggest may not be good for your prospect, but this statement will open the conversation up and allow them to offer an alternative.
When a client says “I’m not interested”. Answer with: “A lot of people say they aren’t interested before they see how much we can save them. I don’t know if my services will be a good fit for you, but doesn’t it make sense for us to at least get together for a short meeting to find out? How about this coming Monday at 11:00 AM?”
Sometimes a potential client may say – “We are really happy with our current packages and company.” – answer with: “That’s really good to know. When you’re getting great service you never think about changing. I would just like to take a few moments of your time to get to know you a little better and even if it doesn’t make sense to do business with me at the moment, I can at least give you a competitive quote that will help you keep those other guys honest. How about Tuesday at 10:00 AM?”
Of course, these are just examples that you can personalize and make your own, following the turnaround steps, or you can use them just as they have been provided for you, word by word.
It’s important to remember that there are going to be those times that no matter what techniques you use, your prospect is just going to continue to say no, and there is nothing you can do about it, no matter how well prepared and how good you are at selling. Most often it has nothing to do with you, with your company or what you have to offer. You may have caught them at a bad time, or they have already turned away other salespeople and so they may be irritated and rude to you in exchange. The key is to not let it get to you when you feel that you have been treated unfairly. There is no point feeling embarrassed, angry or revengeful over some stranger who just wasn’t interested. Do you really want to allow a prospective client to have so much control and power over you and how you feel that you let them destroy your day? I would say not.
Choose to focus on the positive experiences, and there will be plenty of those throughout your business careers. During your sales career you can make thousands of connections with prospects, some of whom will become long term clients. Therefore you should avoid dwelling on the few that go badly. It’s not worth wasting your precious time, energy and emotions on them. There will be plenty of opportunities on your path to success. So, go and explore more methods of prospecting so you can become the best salesperson possible.
Author: Sanda Kruger
Sanda is an entrepreneur, real estate investor, health coach and professional dancer. Sanda is an entrepreneur with more than 20-year experience in business development and project management in the fields of life, health and fitness coaching. She is also a real estate investor and a banker, who learned outstanding adapted business strategies, sales and marketing techniques, communication, and goal setting skills, hands-on, through life and work experiences. She is a certified fitness professional and is the creator of two original fitness programs, called BellyCore® Fitness and AquaCor®.