The Most Important Rule You Need to Know When Opening a Sales Call

when opening a sales call use the Affinity Rule

When I started assembling my current crew, my current Vice President told me a remarkable story about opening a sales call, displaying exceptional sales acumen for someone who was just starting her sales career.

She had been trying for months to nail down some time with the HR manager at a local manufacturing company to discuss our company’s latest offering, a new assessment service. Despite her best efforts, the manager kept giving her put-offs.

How to Respond Effectively to a Prospect’s Put-Offs

If your people have been in sales for over a month, they’ve probably heard some of the same put-offs. And they’re probably asking you for advice on how to deal with them. Put-offs like:

  • I’m busy right now. I don’t have time.
  • We aren’t buying anything right now.
  • I’m on my way out the door.
  • Now is not a good time.

In this case, Jessica had caught the manager “at an inconvenient time” just like the many times before.

However, this time Jessica had given some thought about the daily challenges her prospect faced. She said, “Let me ask you a question. I know that you spend a lot of time pouring over resumes trying to find the right person to fill a position. And you must go through several rounds before you find a few suitable candidates who will potentially accept. What would it be worth to you if you could reduce the time you spend searching through resumes, and increase your certainty of finding the right person for a position in your first round of searches?”

Apparently, Jessica hit a raw nerve. There was a long pause before the manager said, “We need to talk. Do you have some time now?”

Need to know how to coach your people once they have their prospect’s attention? Check out this post on using an effective questioning process to drive the sale.

Give Your Team the Power of the Affinity Rule When Opening a Sales Call

In our training sessions, sales reps are always searching for the magic phrases that will endear them with their prospects. They ask questions like:

In every case, my response is the same:

When opening a sales call, don’t talk about you, your company, or your product. Instead, talk about what’s of interest to your prospect.

This is such an important part of opening a sales call that we call it the Affinity Rule in our training sessions. It governs the first stage of the sales process:

Get your prospect’s attention by talking about things that they are interested in.

Coach Your Sales People to Discover Their Prospect’s Interest before Opening a Sales Call

Before technology drastically changed how buyers interacted with their sales reps, your salespeople could get away with opening a sales call by talking about that picture of the boat on their prospect’s desk.

Today, their prospects don’t have time to waste talking about superficial interests. In today’s business environment, the tolerance for wasted time is zero.

So what’s of interest to their prospects today? These are some of the questions that are dominating their attention:

  • “How can I save time and get more done?”
  • “What can I do to create even a small amount of job security for myself?”
  • “Tell me how I can increase my cash flow using my current resources.”

Their prospects want to talk with someone who can provide relief from their challenging issues. Those issues are what’s occupying their minds and has their attention. So your salespeople need to be able to put aside their own mental challenges, get out of their head, and get into their prospect’s head. That’s where the sale is happening.

If your people can’t get in their prospect’s head and talk about something that’s of interest to them, the buyer will show them the door. Meanwhile, some sales rep who has that capability will walk away with the business.

Do you want to give your team an unfair advantage? Have them follow Jessica’s lead. Coach them to take time to discover the challenges their prospects face daily. Train them to listen to their prospect. Have them see the world from their prospects’ perspective. Then, have them open their sales calls by talking about the things in which their prospects are interested.

Remember, selling is an away game. It happens in the prospect’s head. So coach your people to get out of their heads and start making something happen.

Good Selling!

Want More Ideas on Coaching Your Sales Reps to Opening Their Sales Calls Effectively?

To learn more about how away-game selling can give you a competitive edge, contact Tyson Group here.

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