Outbound Sales Calls: The First 7 Seconds

Often I write about inbound call centers, but a big part of my experience in call centers is in creating outbound sales, and that includes crafting presentations that get results.  My experience writing oubound presentations includes JC Penney (insurance), Sears, timeshare vacations (yeah, I know!), Bell Canada, magazine subscriptions, as well as B2B calls such as promotional gifts to small business, enterprise technology solutions, and more.

I’m just going to come right out and say it.  I’m really good at this.

So yesterday I received a call at home from someone who wanted to sell me new doors.  I didn’t make a purchase because the sales agent (or her script) didn’t compel me to buy from her.  And while I couldn’t provide sales coaching on that particular call (I do that on occasion to folks who have called me), I do want to use her call as an opportunity to share some essential points of getting past the crucial first 7 seconds of a call.  If you don’t follow them, you’ll still get sales provided you call enough people.  If you do follow them, you’ll get a lot more.  Guaranteed.

Reason you are calling

Her reason for calling me was one I often hear.  “We’re in your neighborhood.”  Companies use it because it suggests urgency, and hints that the “opportunity” might be lost.  The problem is that this isn’t a compelling reason from my point of view.  That her company was in my neighborhood (for example) was compelling from her point of view, but that didn’t matter to me.  As a recipient of an outbound call, I’m asking, “Why are you choosing now to call?”  and “Why are you calling me?”  You have to answer these questions immediately, and with my needs in mind, or your call won’t last very long.

Effective Answers to this question have two qualities:

  1. They Are true (Starting a relationship with a lie rarely increases business over the long term.  ‘Nuf said).
  2. They are benefit statements.  Benefit statements don’t tell me the what of your call (“I’m calling to let you know that our door-installers are in your neighborhood, so I’m calling to set up an appointment.”), they tell me the why.  “I’m calling to save you money on the cost of heating / air conditioning your home.”   I want to save money on energy in my home, so I’ll want to listen to you.  That’s a much more compelling reason for me to listen to you than because you’re in my neighborhood.

Permission to Continue

Asking permission to continue with the call (immediately after “wowing” me with a killer benefit statement) is a really important component of any outbound call, and is often omitted to the detriment of results.  Asking permission to continue places control of the call firmly in your hands by making me (your soon-to-be customer) admit that I need the solution you’re offering.  As well, from a psychology of sales point of view, I’m admitting to myself that I want to hear you.  By getting me to give you permission to continue, you are well on your way to closing the sale.

And if I decline permission, you wouldn’t have gotten the sale anyway.  Reschedule and call back at a better time.

Connecting the Benefit to your Solution

Here you need to connect your solution to my problem.  In the example of the door sales-call, most people don’t know that old doors are significant sources of heat / air conditioning loss, and often drive up costs of maintaining a home.  In this example, linking the problem (“Too much money on home heating”), to the solution (“Buy my doors”), will bring you to the next stage in the call.  An effective phrase might be, “Many people aren’t aware that by simply replacing old doors with energy-saving ones can reduce your home energy cost by up to X percent.”

Qualifying Question

At this point, it’s crucial that you follow up with a question that let’s me qualify myself as a person in need of your solution.  In the example of the door sales-call, the question could be, “Have you had your doors replaced within the last 7 years?”  My answer to that question allows me to tell myself, “No, I haven’t!  Holy cripes!  I need to do that!”

Beyond the First 7 Seconds

Rebuttals

After you’ve successfully completed the first 7 seconds, I will probably give you rebuttals.  This is good, because it means I’m engaging with you.  Effectively countering rebuttals means listening to them, acknowledging them, and then responding to them in a way that makes sense to me.  An effective approach often sounds like, “I can appreciate that,” And then continues to address my question.

So regardless of whether your company is a small neighborhood service company, or a large high-tech firm, applying the above principles consistently to your phone presentations will improve your sales.

If you’d like input on how your outbound scripts might be improved, call me or email me by clicking here.

Oh – and please leave a comment if you like.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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  • http://twitter.com/click2engage Sabina Piter

    Pat, this is an excellent post and it struck a cord with me because I have witnessed people making this type of calls (could very well be the same company for all I know so I’m not naming anyone for obvious reasons) and while you’re points are perfectly valid and applying this thinking could lead to more sales/leads/opportunities/appointments, I can sincerely say that the philosophy behind these calls is that there is not time to invest in improving the script since this “technique” has been used before and “works”, things need to be done quickly, and, most importantly, the key to success is to make call after call after call… numbers matter more than results. Outbound calls in these cases are not conversation-focused…it’s merely a 30 sec script read out loud and if a no is given as an answer they move on to the next person on the list until they get a yes and hope for the best in terms of achieving their target. Sadly this is a top to bottom driven philosophy and any offer for assistance is often rejected.

    • patperdue

      Thanks so much Sabina! You’re absolutely correct. Often outbound campaigns rely on the “law of averages” to generate at least some sales, rather than a good sales pitch. Of course the challenge with that is the risk of burning through a list very quickly. Thank you again for your comment!!

  • http://twitter.com/click2engage Sabina Piter

    Pat, this is an excellent post and it struck a cord with me because I have witnessed people making this type of calls (could very well be the same company for all I know so I’m not naming anyone for obvious reasons) and while you’re points are perfectly valid and applying this thinking could lead to more sales/leads/opportunities/appointments, I can sincerely say that the philosophy behind these calls is that there is not time to invest in improving the script since this “technique” has been used before and “works”, things need to be done quickly, and, most importantly, the key to success is to make call after call after call… numbers matter more than results. Outbound calls in these cases are not conversation-focused…it’s merely a 30 sec script read out loud and if a no is given as an answer they move on to the next person on the list until they get a yes and hope for the best in terms of achieving their target. Sadly this is a top to bottom driven philosophy and any offer for assistance is often rejected.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks so much Sabina! You’re absolutely correct. Often outbound campaigns rely on the “law of averages” to generate at least some sales, rather than a good sales pitch. Of course the challenge with that is the risk of burning through a list very quickly. Thank you again for your comment!!

  • Nick Kossovan

    Nice one Pat! When I knew you back in the day I would l always would be competing with your results and never could match your team’s (I would come close, but not close enough.). Now I know why. Your understanding of how to engage prospective clients was the key to your success. Thanks for sharing this and putting another peice of the puzzle into place.

  • Nick Kossovan

    Nice one Pat! When I knew you back in the day I would l always would be competing with your results and never could match your team’s (I would come close, but not close enough.). Now I know why. Your understanding of how to engage prospective clients was the key to your success. Thanks for sharing this and putting another peice of the puzzle into place.

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    Most of the time outbound call center are not generate as good result as we get previously like 75 to 6 year. Most of the people will not like to answer the  marketing calls and they cut the call. But this is really positive post to read.

  • http://www.manageyourleads.com/services/appointment-setting/ Appointment Setting

    Most of the time outbound call center are not generate as good result as we get previously like 75 to 6 year. Most of the people will not like to answer the  marketing calls and they cut the call. But this is really positive post to read.

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  • Deirdre

    Cold calling differs in every Country, County, City and the list goes on.  In other words, you are making an assumption that every contact will have your view point on cold calling; however this is not true and the answer is “thinking on your feet” and turning yoiur scripting around within seconds to connect with the customer.  Your scripting is ONLY for USA and possibly Canada but not suitable for UK.  Asking permission is a killer and if you are good enough on the phone there will be no requirement to ask permission – now I normally chanrge for this advise but not this time

  • Deirdre

    Cold calling differs in every Country, County, City and the list goes on.  In other words, you are making an assumption that every contact will have your view point on cold calling; however this is not true and the answer is “thinking on your feet” and turning yoiur scripting around within seconds to connect with the customer.  Your scripting is ONLY for USA and possibly Canada but not suitable for UK.  Asking permission is a killer and if you are good enough on the phone there will be no requirement to ask permission – now I normally chanrge for this advise but not this time

  • Meena Isola

    i am going through the process of a job interview.  Part of task is to write script for a outbound sales call scenario.  I found your write up so very relevant and useful.  great source of knowledge from your experience.  thank you so much…

  • Meena Isola

    i am going through the process of a job interview.  Part of task is to write script for a outbound sales call scenario.  I found your write up so very relevant and useful.  great source of knowledge from your experience.  thank you so much…

  • Eddie Greenwald

    This hits the nail right on the head.  I have been in the call center industry for only 5 years, ranging from agent, and now Director of Telecommunications, and the way you described how to approach rebuttals is fantastic.  If the customer does not care, they will not say a word.  If they are interested, they will ask questions/have concerns to ensure they are making the best purchase for their specific needs.  Thank you so very much for this great break down.

  • Eddie Greenwald

    This hits the nail right on the head.  I have been in the call center industry for only 5 years, ranging from agent, and now Director of Telecommunications, and the way you described how to approach rebuttals is fantastic.  If the customer does not care, they will not say a word.  If they are interested, they will ask questions/have concerns to ensure they are making the best purchase for their specific needs.  Thank you so very much for this great break down.

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  • Anishjoseph47

    give some proper sample of opening pitch,,, what the shit is this

  • Anishjoseph47

    give some proper sample of opening pitch,,, what the shit is this

  • john

    Hi! if you don’t mind can you give me an example for outbound spiel for my products( power wheelchair, diabetic tester, and back brace) by the way, thank you so much for the tips, i really appreciate that. 

  • Prashant

    Hi Pat,

    This is a good post and really gives you a better idea what makes the customer say an yes, I like the examples you quoted. I request you to please keep writing such good articles.

  • steve

    hey hi, we are doing outbound process for online education. Please help us in giving rebuttals and how to initiate the call…

  • Neal

    I want a pitch for Debt Management Program. I’m failing with all the scripts that I use
    .