Women in Sales Blog

Make Prospecting Easier with Critical Thinking and Active Listening: Learn How to Prospect in a More Human, Smarter Way with These Tips

Posted by Jan 24, 2014 10:13:00 AM Ali Powell


At HubSpot I have worked with an amazing BDR, Danielle for more than a year. We have learned how to work really well together and play off of each others strengths and weaknesses. I don't know how she puts up with me but she does! One thing that we do each week (multiple times a week if we can) is meet in a conference room and talk through whatever things have been happening to her this week on the phones, on email, on linkedin, anywhere she is prospecting. 

She asks me questions about opps I am working, she asks me questions about things people are saying to her on the phone, she asks me really anything that she thinks might help her to learn and do her job better. 

Usually these sessions last about an hour. I won't typically go over an hour because I think at that point we have usually talked about a TON of different things and I don't want Danielle to be overwhelmed with all of these things she is going to start trying or do differently on her calls. How_to_have_a_successful_sales_and_bdr_coaching_session

Things that make this meeting work well for us:

  • I start asking her how she is doing, how her day went, how the week is going. Gauge how your BDR is feeling about everything. 
  • Your job as their coach is to get their confidence up and try to help them to learn.
  • BDRs are sponges. They want to learn anything and everything you have to say, so teach them. Don't just ask them what they think but actually tell them what you would do and role play with them. You want to make sure that your BDR really understands why you are telling them to do something next time they run into a specific situation. Make sure that he or she can say back to you why you are telling them something and why they think this will help on connect calls moving forward. 
  • Have them write down what you are saying and then save it. Study those words, study those phrases and scenarios you spoke about and then hold them accountable for changing when they encounter scenarios that you spoke about in your meeting. 
  • Next session you have with them discuss how those things are going...then keep teaching them. 
  • Your job is to help your BDR feel more comfortable and better about prospecting. 

Your job as a coach and mentor to your BDR is to facilitate a great sales process from connect call through them setting you up with an opp. It will help you and your BDR if you have this type of relationship. Your job is to teach your BDR what you know and help them understand how to do what you do with their own flare and own style. 

In our session yesterday we spoke about a lot of different things that Danielle was facing in her prospecting lately and we came up with a great list of what we would work on for the rest of this week and onwards. 

These things all have something in common. This list should help a sales person or a BDR to have better prospecting and better connect calls. Here is the list we came up with this week: 

Bdrs_are_sponges._They_want_to_learnProspecting is more like critical thinking than anything. 

  • When you are prospecting your job is to think critically. You need to think about what someone is saying to you and pick apart the right parts. 
  • One example Danielle gave me was what if someone says, "I know HubSpot, I love HubSpot, but I don't have budget." That is what the prospect said right when they picked up the phone and Danielle told them who she was. Her gut instinct was to ask about the budget thing. I wanted to understand why she was caught on that. Why not first react to the first thing that this person said which was about them knowing HubSpot. I naturally spark up and get interested about that part first. Not the budget part. 
  • BDRs have a knack for hearing certain words. Their ears perck up when they hear buzz words that they have been taught. Your job as a coach for them is to help them to think more critically in the prospecting calls. 
  • Explain that you need to assess each part of a person's sentence. Don't just focus on the buzz words...

Be human on your calls and realize that you are also talking to a human being as well. 

  • Stop worrying about just converting the opp. 
  • You will be better at your job if you stop worrying about this one thing that you have to do and just focus on being normal and being as human as possible.
  • Stop thinking like a sales person and think more like a human being. 
  • Be yourself, don't act weird and don't act salesy. 

Be respectful of the other person's time on the other end of the phone. 

  • You most likely caught this person off guard. Right? Right.... SO remember that, say to the prospect things like....
  • "I know that I have caught you off guard, you don't know who I am, you don't have any reason to talk to me but this is who I am, this is what I do, this is the research that I did and this is why I wanted to talk to you.
  • Ask them if they have one second for you to explain why you are reaching out to them. Keep saying that you know you are interrupting their day and that you want to respect that. Make sure they have a second to spend with you and if they don't ask questions. Be helpful and respectful. 

Your main job is to see if you can help that person. Make that very clear on the phone that you are looking to help them. Be helpful in general. 

  • Your job more than anything else is to come off helpful. No, not just come off helpful but actually be helpful.
  • If you are not being the most helpful, meaning as helpful as you possibly can on your calls or in whatever you are doing in prospecting then you should take a break and get yourself in the right place where you can be helpful.
  • Explain to the person on the phone or in your emails that you job is to assess the situation they are in, based off your research you know X, Y, and Z and those things told you that reaching out might be relevant and timely to their organization. 
  • Explain that your job is to see if they 1. want help 2. see if they need help 3. see if they want help. Then 4. actually help them. :) Your_job_as_a_sales_person_is_to_help

Think about what the prospect has said and then respond in a way that is intelligent and real.

  • Use your brain.
  • Don't go on autopilot. 
  • Don't just say things to say things. 
  • Don't just ask the same old questions just because you know them.
  • Think on your feet. 
  • Stay aware and think about what the person is saying to you. Does this all make sense? Does what they are saying actually make sense? If it doesn't ask them questions. 

Don't have happy ears. Don't get caught up on buzz words. 

  • People are naturally sparked towards things that they think will help them out. If you are thinking about just getting another lead converted into an opp on all of your calls you will miss important nuggets. 
  • Instead you will focus on buzz words. 
  • Your brain will stop working correctly and you will only hear buzz words that suggest that this could be a good opp. You will then stop hearing the other parts of what they are saying and miss out on things that could help you get this converted. 

Do not make assumptions.

  • You might think you know why someone has said something but you might be wrong.
  • Ask questions about why someone has said something.
  • Be naturally curious. 
  • Don't assume that what they are saying means X, ask them what that means and ask them if you are correct in what you are thinking they mean. 

Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions.

  • That is it....

Know who you are talking to. Know your audience in general.

  • Not everyone person is the same. A CEO is different than a junior marketing manager, a VP of Sales is different than a VP of Marketing. These people should not be approached the same way. 
  • Even further, someone who is new is different than someone who is not. 
  • Make sure you are aware of who you are talking to when you are prospecting so you know how you should behave. 
  • If you don't understand certain roles that people have in your target market talk with your sales person you work with to help you understand what those roles mean and what those people in those roles care about.
  • Each person you are prospecting likely cares about different things. Have ideas as to what those might be and then ask them things about that. 

Show that you care. Show them that you are authentic in your outreach. That you don't just reach out to everyone and that you think they are special for a certain reason/s. 

  • People don't want to feel like you are just sitting there going through CRM and just calling people to call people. 
  • Number 1 - if you are doing that then you should stop and really think about what makes someone a good lead and assess whether or not you have good leads in your system.
  • Don't reach out to people just because. You need to have a reason.
  • When you have a good reason or good reasons you should explain those things to your prospect. Tell them why you are reaching out because you think those things could be relevant or could help them.
  • Be authentic and be real. Show them that you really do care about seeing if this could help them. 

Help the prospect to understand that you did research and that that research makes you think you can help but...If you can't help and they are actually in fact not a good fit for what your company solves for then you will tell them and let them go. 

  • Don't keep people on the phone if they are not a good fit. Tell them they are not a good fit and help them understand why too.
  • If someone really doesn't want to talk to you and is not open to learning then let them go...it is not worth your time. 

be_excited_in_the_sales_processGet excited if you think you can help someone. 

  • If during your connect call you both are starting to see that you might be able to help them GET EXCITED. 
  • No get REALLY EXCITED. 
  • Let that shine through on your call. Your enthusiasm will excite them and get them really thinking about why this might be a fit. They will then be excited when they get off the phone with you and they will likely be excited to talk to the sales rep next more in depth about what you thought that your company could help them with. 

Now go get em!!!

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Topics: sales skills, sales coaching, sales tips, sales prospecting, women in sales, smart sales, more human sales process, more human sales, more human sales prospecting

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