The Millennial Sales Call: 3 Tips to Tackle Nerves in a Digital Age
Not only has the sales call changed significantly in the last decade, but so has the individual making the sales call. In an age of texting and email, speaking on the phone has become less comfortable for the Millennial. Here are some simple tips to make those sales calls less nerve wracking.
It should be of little surprise that the Millennial generation-- my generation-- often dreads picking up the phone to make a sales call. In an age where texting and email was the main means of communication for those 30 and under, phone calls are for checking in with mom and dad or are associated with reaching out to someone about something that is urgent.
So when it comes to the Millennial and the sales call (or more often cold call depending on your relationship with the client), Millennials are more apprehensive to just pick up the phone and call on someone about a product or service. Worse yet, Millennials will often treat the phone call like a form of verbal texting. They want to make their point as fast as possible, which leads them to coming across cold and abrupt without uncovering the potential needs of the person on the other line.
If you are one of those Millennials who looks at your phone in fear, I have 3 tips for you to make a sales call less stressful and more productive:
1). Forget B2B or B2C, this is about P2P
It doesn't matter whether you are in a "business to business" industry or "business to consumer" industry; ultimately, you are interacting with PEOPLE, and you should treat your business first and foremost as "people to people." Speaking to a customer and seeing them through the eyes of the company logo they represent robs both you and them of the opportunity of understanding their needs, successes and where YOU can help.
Jumping immediately into questions like "What is your budget?" does nothing to form a relationship with your client. Instead, treat the initial phone call as a "getting to know you" phone call. There is no need to go into sales mode on the first interaction. Ask about how they became involved in their business and their goals for the year. See it as an opportunity to find out if you and your company is a good fit for their needs-- do not automatically assume just because there is potential short term money to be made that there is long term gain as well. If you do not see the sale as more of a partnership in which both parties benefit, do not expect this client to stay around long.
2). If you don't know an answer, don't make one up
In a digital age where answers are a search engine away, Millennials face an even bigger fear of not knowing the answer on the spot. After all, in a texting or email conversation, time can be made to navigate the internet or ask coworkers input. Millennials have been trained to have instant access to answers. In a realtime conversation, however, there is often not enough time to place the person on hold while you consult your marketing team.
Unfortunately, this often leads to Millennials giving their "best guesstimate" on the spot in the form of an answer. The fear of sounding stupid causes panic. As someone who has been guilty of this as well, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is to simply state "I don't know the answer but I'll be sure to get back to you with one." Believe me, if the person is truly interested in you and your product/service, they will be more than happy to wait to receive a correct answer rather than a guess. Do not be afraid to let your client know that you are new to the job or the field, and that you would appreciate their patience as you assist them. Honesty and humility make a great salesperson.
3). Speak slowly and listen
Nothing screams "I'm nervous!" like consistently interrupting your client on the other line and rushing your speech. Take pauses after you make statements or ask questions. Allow the client to comment on what you have had to say and allow them to answer in full. We not only miss vital information when we set the precedent that this phone call is being "rushed," but we form a poor relationship with the person on the other end.
Some ways to protect yourself from rushing is creating a list of 3 or 4 questions you want to make sure you ask your client. This will help you from rambling on without allowing input from the other end. After making a couple of statements, allow for at least a 3 second pause of silence where you give the other person the opportunity to comment or ask a question. Yes, it will feel awkward. But that awkwardness emphasizes the importance that the conversation be two-way.