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The First Rule of Sales Club: Engage

Published on August 20, 2015

The First Rule of Sales Club: Engage

For most sales people, face-to-face interaction is becoming something of a rarity.

For better or worse, in this increasingly digital world, much of our interaction with other humans occurs through digital channels. Things like emailLinkedIn, texting and chatting dominate our communication.

Enter everyone’s favorite buzzword: engagement. It’s not just for sales people either, it’s clutch for marketers to engage prospects early and often. The right content to the right person, on the right channel, at the right time is the holy grail of digital marketing that everyone seeks.

But once marketers reach that holy grail, what happens next? That prospect is handed off to the sales sales team. But what does sales do from that point?

Here is where we’re going to run into a host of different responses, everything from qualify to close, but what do we miss on that spectrum? ENGAGEMENT!

Barring anything else, job number one for the sales professional is to engage.

If you are fortunate, and have a tremendous marketing team and referral network behind you then on that first call, your job is to truly engage that prospect to live up to the standards set by your marketing colleagues.

If your organization provides you with no support, leaving you to claw for every lead, the key is exactly the same: get in front of that prospect and engage!

Simply put, engagement is just as important for sales as it is for marketing.

Sales people must continually hone their craft. Always think in terms of what makes you better and sets you apart. There are a lot of good people out there who can sell, but only the the best truly engage from end-to-end. What does that mean? It means owning every conversation you enter.

Whether it’s your job to listen or to present a solution, be sure to engage with appropriate follow-up questions, recap what you heard, and always ask, “what else?”

When it’s your turn to deliver, do it with polish and deliberate follow-through. Even though we do it every day, communicating with another human is extremely complex, there are so many factors at play. Especially for inside sales folks who don’t have the opportunity to read body language. How hard is that?

The way you present yourself in a phone interaction must be on-point. Again, engagement is the key. But, the the inevitable question then becomes: how?

I will leave all of the pre-call planning, research and typical sales coaching items to the experts in those fields. I want to focus squarely on the delivery, and how you can effectively communicate with your fellow humans. This is an extremely fascinating topic because it’s something so many people fear, but for sales people, that lack of fear is likely one of the reasons you got into sales in the first place.

I have three key factors that will make you a better communicator, both in sales and life.

1. The high school essay approach

Approach interaction like you would a written essay for English class in high school. Boil all of your interactions down so it contains a clear thesis and beginning, middle and end. Then, the basic premise for any interaction becomes:

  • Tell people what you are going to tell them
  • Tell them
  • Tell them what you told them

This has been said over and over, but it applies almost everywhere. Especially on a sales call.

 2. Ditch the script  

Scripts become a crutch and actually stunt engagement. Instead, think in terms of concepts to fill the outline of your “essay.” The key here is to know your material cold (i.e. product, value prop, prospect, etc.). This allows you to speak freely within a framework that has a defined purpose.

3. Your content comes from your prospect

Using the framework outlined in points 1 and 2, the content for your sales call will come from your prospect. A pre-determined script will almost always fail. Instead, your job is to actively listen, absorb information, process it quickly, and fit it into your outline. That is how you will truly engage with a prospect, and in the process make them feel like they are being heard. Then, tailor your message to their pain.

This may or may not be a vast departure from your current approach, but the idea here is to keep it simple. Knowing your product or service forward and backward is an assumption, and knowing how to ask questions that elicit a response are an assumption in this equation, those should be the basics for every sales pro. Take those skills, combine them them to the three items outlined, and you’ll see true engagement with other humans go through the roof.

I’d love to hear your feedback and results. Let me know in the comments.