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How to Have an Effective First Conversation When B2B Teleprospecting


I believe one of the most challenging aspects of sales teleprospecting is the first conversation.

You have less than a minute to prove yourself as a trustworthy sales rep. You only have your phone, your research, and your CRM to back you up. You can get bogged down by administrators or frustrated by curt replies. I’ve seen firsthand how extremely difficult it can be to build trust with a prospect on a first meeting.

Whether you’re new to an inside sales role or you’ve been sales prospecting for years, it’s important to know how the best techniques for holding a quality first conversation with your prospects. Below are some tips that I can offer based on my experience:

1. Don’t waste time with the wrong person. After introducing yourself, immediately let your prospects know that you understand their time is valuable, and make sure they’re the right person who oversees the specific area of interest you’re calling about. Your time won’t be wasted and neither will theirs.

2. Eliminate fluff. When it comes to teleprospecting scripts, I hate fluff. Don’t ask your prospects about the weekend. Get to the point quickly and ask them questions about their environment and their current technologies.

3. Avoid product dumping. Leave the product information for later conversations. Instead of hounding prospects with tech speak, focus on learning about their environment during the initial prospecting efforts. Have a 3-sentence “What We Do” statement prepared for the initial call; anything longer could be overkill. You don’t want to talk your way out of a sale without even knowing enough about your prospects’ environment yet.

4. It’s OK to keep it brief. Don’t feel like you need to have a 30-minute conversation on the first attempt. Gather key information from the prospect, and then ask for 30 minutes in the upcoming week to regroup. That way, you have time to prepare a selling approach that will be most relevant to them.

5. Play detective. Ask meaningful questions that will help you determine quickly whether or not prospects are a good fit for your product or service. Having a list of qualification questions in front of you will allow you to do this more effectively. The key is to work these questions into the conversation without sounding like you are taking a survey.

6. Less talking, more listening. If you are talking for the majority of the call – STOP! The initial call is all about the prospect. To succeed in not talking your prospect’s ear off, it is crucial to have a list of probing questions in front of you. Ask the questions based on the flow of the conversation and then step back and let them talk. Remember that you don’t always have to fill in the silence, as sometimes the prospect will take that opportunity to further explain their situation.

7. Don’t interrupt. There’s nothing worse than an inside sales rep who interrupts a prospect while he or she is talking on the phone. You may be thinking, “This never happens; who would do that?” but believe me, it astonishingly does happen. It’s rude, abrasive and it causes prospects to lose any trust they had in you immediately. Being assertive and polite at the same time is crucial when it comes to any sales conversation, never mind an initial one.

B2B teleprospecting is tough – kudos to you for sticking with it! What additional tips can you share for having an effective first conversation?

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About the Author   |   Laney Dowling

Laney Dowling is the Director of Customer Success at AG Salesworks. Laney's responsibilities include managing daily client engagements, inside sales team oversight, reporting, training, and ongoing contact list development and refinement. To read more of Laney's articles, click here.

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