Sales can be a stressful game. It’s an career that requires effective communication, efficient research, the ability to face rejection, and the confidence to pursue and follow up. It means having patience and rapport with prospects and knowing how to use your personable and intellectual strengths to close deals.

In other words, it isn’t easy. Here are a few common questions you might be asking yourself (and too afraid to ask your boss) that can help improve your sales game.

1. How do you find the right person to sell to?

When companies schedule appointments with anyone who will take a call – using vague contact lists and titles that are inherently inaccurate – it wastes time and resources. Instead, you need a process to navigate to your target account and connect with multiple people who can help get your message to the right person.

Leverage a company’s social DNA to get to the right person and meet their sales goals. Social DNA is the internal structure of communication within a company, whether it be the department’s specific acronyms or the general flow of information from one individual to the next. It allows you, as a salesperson, to have quality conversations with actual decision-makers. Check out this video to learn more about how leveraging the Social DNA works.

2. What does it take to get an appointment with anyone?

“Disarm,” “Purpose,” and “Question.” First, “disarm” is a way to get the prospect to pay attention to you in the midst of what they’re doing. To get them focused on you, identify yourself and acknowledge that you know they’re busy. “Purpose” means that, once they respond, succinctly tell them what you want (an appointment for a specific date/time). Lastly, “Question” means asking a question on how to accomplish the purpose in #2.

If you use these three steps each time you’re on the phone, you’ll remain in control, and you’ll increase the likelihood of securing that next step (appointment, demo, etc.).

3. How do I overcome an objection?

It’s essential to understand the difference between an objection and an excuse because they often appear to be the same. Objections are legitimate concerns that your prospects are voicing to you that either keep them from buying or appear to keep them from buying. It’s vital to treat the prospect directly and respectfully when they object. Excuses are more like invented reasons, and they take the form of vague comments like, “I will think about it,” which lacks specificity.

In both situations, questions are key. For any vague comments, ask questions to narrow down their reasoning so that it’s more specific and focused. At the same time, actively listen. When they present an objection, acknowledge that it’s important to them, and you understand that. Then, ask questions around it. For example, if a prospect objects about the price being higher than competition, ask, “Does that mean you would’ve chosen us if it weren’t for the price?” These types of questions help you make sure you’ve qualified them efficiently.

4. Does cold calling work? How do I do it?

Cold calling only works if your execution is correct, and when you use it in tandem with other methods such as social selling and email marketing. Practice is crucial if you want to be effective at cold calling. Whether through a call simulator or preparing a script, make sure you’re ready when the prospect picks up the phone. If the key decision-maker isn’t on the other end of the line, always show respect to the gatekeeper.

Next, understand the importance of timing. Studies show that the best days to cold call a prospect are Wednesdays and Thursdays between 4 and 5 p.m. or 11 a.m. to noon. However, the best days to call are those that end in “Y.”

Remember: don’t oversell. Your prospect is busy, so avoid jumping straight into full-on sales mode, and instead of “selling,” try focusing on how your product is providing a solution. After you’ve done this, make sure to follow up and be persistent. Rejection is part of the game, so grow a thick skin, follow up, and move on to the next prospect.

5. Should I leave a voicemail? What should it entail?

The answer to the first question is yes; leave a voicemail. However, make sure you do it right because a lousy message is more damaging than no message at all. Our study concluded that the perfect voice message should last between 28-32 seconds. In that time,

  1. identify yourself and your company (full name, always!)
  2. Add context by saying how you got to them (if there was a referral from someone else in the organization)
  3. State the purpose of the call
  4. Provide two date options for when you can discuss further
  5. Provide a clear, concise way to reply by restating your name and phone number.
  6. Refer back to #5. Always clearly state your name and phone number to build familiarity if you need to call them again

6. Why do I have to use a phone at all? Why can’t everything be digital?

We believe that it’s imperative to use an “all-of-the-above” strategy that combines human-to-human (H2H), digital, and social in a highly coordinated fashion. After all, how can you get one-on-one with your prospect without the use of a phone? Using the phone not only personalizes communication, it also allows you to socialize your message internally. If you don’t leave your message with the decision-maker, your contact may socialize your message to the right person. It’s a unique approach in today’s modern, digital society, so it becomes a differentiator automatically. In the end, the phone increases your chances of getting to the right person who can make actual decisions about your solution.

7. What is social selling? How should I implement it into my strategy?

Social selling is the practice of using social media to find, understand, communicate with, and nurture sales prospects. It’s a newer way to develop relationships with potential customers, and while it’s effective, it shouldn’t be your entire sales strategy. To think all a ‘social seller’ needs to do is hang out on Sales Navigator, read and share content, and reply to posts is unrealistic. At some point, you must have a meaningful conversation, and that conversation is equally critical to connecting via social.

8. What’s the purpose of a personal brand?

From one perspective, a personal brand seems like egotistical self-promotion. From another perspective, it’s a means to use your skills, accomplishments, and experiences to differentiate yourself from the crowd of competition. The main distinction is making sure that your personal brand is less about you and more about how your brand helps others. You can do this by answering your “why” (your values) and “how” (your skills). Social tools enable you to strengthen your personal and company brand. Remember to continue to evolve and stay true to yourself (your why and how) along the way.

9. What do you do when a prospect ghosts you?

So, you’ve got a good deal going, and then the deal suddenly goes dark. It’s hard to accept this as anything but personal but try to remember that these things happen. Life happens. If the silence goes past a month, send a proposal letter rescinding the offer and asking for a refocus meeting. In the meantime, call someone else at the company, whether it be through the mainline or someone above the person you were speaking to. “Hey, it’s been a while since I heard back from [insert previous contact here], and I wanted to reconnect.” If you’re concerned that you’ll appear as a pest, remember that they’re the ones who haven’t responded to you in over a month. You should feel no concern about going over their heads at this point. At least now, you can know whether or not to move on to other prospects.

This is one reason that connecting with multiple key players in an organization is so key. If you have looped in another person, it is much easier to reach out to that person if a deal goes quiet.

10. What do you do with “zombie” or “dead” leads?

Sometimes, a lead can sit in your funnel, going nowhere, and making zero progress. Whatever the reason for this, you’re classifying that lead as “dead” or “ZQL: Zombie Qualified Lead,” and you do have the ability to bring those leads back to life. When a lead has been sitting for too long, or we’ve qualified them as “Dead no decision,” we immediately recycle them into “ZQL” status, and we start over. Sometimes you might consider retargeting the same account but with a different buyer. If it’s the right company in your Ideal Client Profile, it’s worth another stab at it!
You’ve Asked the Questions. We’re Here to Help.

By understanding the answers to these questions, you can take the next confident steps to refine your skills. With the help of a reliable sales prospecting process such as Staccato, a rep can gain the attention of the right key player, increasing the likelihood of securing a first conversation.