I don’t like talking on the phone, generally, but I’m coming around. The phone, for me, has long since been something that facilitates action, i.e., when you need something or someone you reach for the phone. Otherwise, I have mostly preferred other methods of communication. I didn’t always have this level of disdain for phones, however.
I love that scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold’s boss, Mr. Shirley reaches for the phone demanding that his assistant “get me someone… and get me someone while I’m waiting!”That is how I pictured the phone growing up.I couldn’t wait to get my own phone; the phone was a symbol of power.
The phone at my parents house was not as powerful as that phone in the movies – that phone had rules.When we were young the phone was to be answered in a particular manner, it was then our job to find out which one of the important people who lived in our house was desired on the other end of that line, and to get the phone to them post haste.
As I got older the phone became a point of some conflict. We had one line and some friends of mine seemed not to have the same level of phone etiquette my parents would have liked.This caused issues for me, and again, the phone failed to live up to my expectations.
When it came time for my first job the phone took on a whole new meaning.The phone was now a weapon. When I was 15, a friend and I were hired at a local telemarketing firm. Turns out, we were really good at using the phone to sell things. In those three summer months, we dominated the 20, 30 and 40 something’s who worked at the call center as we peddled the plague that directly precedes the four horsemen of the apocalypse – credit card protection. We were so good that if you are still beholden to a perpetuity of revolving debt due to a poor impulse buy one evening in the summer of 1995, there’s a good chance I sold you card protection.Sorry, really.That stint then led to other phone sales jobs, which ultimately transitioned me into marketing where I learned to wield phones en masse.We were no longer the telemarketers – we now ran telemarketing teams!And on and on until the phone has become for everyone else, what it is for me – a noisy paperweight.
People are obsessed with their phones. They are a mash-up of everything entertainment,
informative, and connecting.How many people in your office are on their phones during meetings?When was the last time you left your phone at home or were without it for a day?Four year olds are getting iPhones – and they’re using them, well!Almost 87% of people in the world have a cell phone.And they are using them for everything except verbal conversation.No one seems to like actually talking on the phone.
I like to be prepared for conversations and I also like looking people in the eye. The phone makes this challenging. I read a lot into what people do when they talk.I’ve always been fascinated with body language and it’s something I try to research from time to time.Amy Cuddy has some good info out there and her TED talk is pretty interesting as well.I don’t know if I’m necessarily good at analyzing body language but it certainly adds another element for me to sit and ponder and frankly entertain myself with.If you want to try an interesting experiment start a meeting with very passive body language and then mid-meeting change it drastically to become dominant – the results are really interesting.You can’t do that over the phone.
I’ve seen a lot of chatter recently about how phone sales are not dead, the art of the cold call and the like.Bullshit.The term cold call is, by definition an intrusion.Can you be skilled at cold calling?Yes.Can you get results from a cold calling campaign?Yes.Can you get better results by first knowing the prospect. YES.
The phone isn’t dead, but people are less likely to put up with annoyance. We have bigger buffers than ever before.Even email response is on the decline — unsolicited email response that is. Conversely, “relevant email” — as in the type of email contained in a nurture series — is way up.Buyers are looking for information more than ever before and the inbox is a great place for that info to reside.But more than 40% of our current pipeline
is made up of individuals that actually prefer face-to-face interaction.How do we know this?In addition to the buyer being in our pipeline and having an immense amount of interaction with them, we also know what they purchase.When buyers heavily requireface-to-face interaction, it’s more of a commentary about how they trust than anything else.This is information regarding the buyer that the marketing team needs.Sadly, it’s also probably the information marketing doesn’t get – or isn’t considering.
To be a little more granular about my phone issues, it’s not that I hate talking on the phone, I just hate talking on the phone to people I don’t know or about something I’m really not interested in.Guess what? Few people do. That means that the majority of your buyers don’t want to get a call from you out of the blue. They want to know who’s calling, know what you’re calling about, and know that you’re only calling because they opened the window for it to happen by showing enough interest.
Know your buyer and their preferences before you ever pick up the phone. Many buyers need to engage with someone verbally or even (gasp) face-to-face once they get to a certain place of engagement with a company.Buzzwords like buyer personas aren’t empty marketing terms when done correctly – instead they become imperative.There is no element of marketing that we conduct or produce without consulting our buyer personas and tailoring messaging specifically to those buyer needs. You have buyers in your funnel right now that want to speak to someone, no; they need to speak to someone.And chances are you are serving them email while calling down a list of folks who would rather you not interrupt their day.
Automation isn’t the ability to repeat actions that don’t work, it’s the ability to monitor and react with actions that do.Brute force doesn’t work when it applies to sales, and anyone who says, “it’s a numbers game” doesn’t get it.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.