The following is true story about the power of a perfectly formatted VITO letter. Before you pick-up that 3,000 pound phone to make a sales call on any member of the ‘C’ Suite including the CEO read and remember this story.
Recently, one of my salespeople had some car problems so I offered to give him a ride to work. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to do a little one-on-one, role-playing I suggested we go over some appointment setting telephone skills. A well proven statistic that you’ve got just eight seconds to grab an executive’s attention. Daniel, was a bit skeptical about the eight second rule. He looked at me and said, “Boss, eight seconds is too short a period of time! That’s hardly enough time to take a deep breath, let alone make a meaningful opening statement!”
At the very next red light as it turned green, I kept my foot on the brake and started counting: ‘One thousand one, one thousand two…’ People started honking. By the time I got to “one thousand four,” Daniel was begging me to get moving. By the time we hit the sixth second, the guy behind us was starting to get out of his car, and Daniel was looking for a place under the seat to hide. When I finally hit eight, the intersection was a symphony of honking horns, ‘pointing fingers’ and shouting mouths. I hit the gas.
Now, if you’ve read any of my books, attended my live events, webinars, or read any of my articles, you understand what motivates members of the ‘C’ Suite to buy; you know the real Benefits about your product, service, or solution; and you have a good idea about the VITO tactics at your disposal. When you find yourself getting ready to pick-up that 3,000 pound phone to call any ‘C’ level executive including the CEO, what do you say?
Let’s also assume that you’re calling a new prospect:
You’ve decided to use the telephone to do this, either by means of a follow-up call on a written communication (see my article on Correspondence to VITO), or as your first contact without sending a correspondence.
Your aim is to get an appointment or create the next step with VITO who is the person who can actually buy whatever it is you’re selling and the person who has the ultimate veto power.
Three big Goals:
1.Make it sound conversational.
2.Deliver it with confidence.
3.Get a favorable interruption as-soon-as-possible…one that clearly keeps VITO in control.
The Five Key Ingredients of Your Telephone Opening Statement
For right now, assume that VITO is going to pick up their own phone and not their Personal Assistant…(for my epic tactics on how to work with VITO’s private assistant take a look at my article titled ‘Gatekeepers’). By the way, VITO will pick up their own phone about 25% of the time.
Key Ingredient 1: The Introduction
Usually, when VITO picks up their own line, they say their name: “This is VITO,” or “VITO Importanta speaking.” Your first step will be to repeat VITO’s name. Keep things formal for now use Mr. or Ms., then the VITO’s last name.
Prospect: This is VITO.
You: Ms. Importanta?
This first step will earn you Ms. Importanta’s undivided attention. Whatever she was doing prior to your saying her name, she’s now stopped doing. She’s paying attention to you and that’s a good thing!
What most salespeople do now despite ample and endlessly repeated evidence that they shouldn’t is to say something totally lame like this: “Hi, Ms. Jones. This is Will Perish, with the ABC Insurance Company.”
Unless your name is, say, James Bond, or your company affiliation is, say, the Prize Disbursement Division of Publishers Clearing House, or the IRS I can tell you what’s going to happen next in the vast majority of such calls. The prospect will respond to this self defeating “verbal handshake” by tuning out, asking you to send written information, pretending that the building just caught fire, or otherwise disengaging from the call. In other words, you will have only been on the line about a second and a half, and you’ll be done.
Key Ingredient 2: The Pleasantry
Here’s an alternative plan (one that works). What I’m about to tell you will contradict what you’ve been taught. Do it anyway.
You’re going to say something positive and enthusiastic, something that does not directly identify you, your company, or the product or service you eventually want to discuss. It’s too early in the call for that…Instead, you’re going to use a pleasantry, something like this:
•”It’s an honor to finally speak with you!”
•”Thanks for picking up the phone!”
•”Thanks for taking my call!”
•”What a surprise to get you live!”
Get the idea? Each and every one of these pleasantries will do a far better job for you than your name and company affiliation at the outset of the conversation. Or saying something totally lame like: “How are you today?” or, “Do you have a minute?”
Key Ingredient 3: The Hook
Immediately after your pleasantry, you’re going to snag the intentional area of VITO’s brain by using a hook that’s keyed directly to something likely to be of interest to this VITO.
“We’ve helped (three of the top five widget corporations) increase shareholder value by further (increasing revenues by as much as 4% annually ) while holding the line on (major line item expenses).”
Now, there’s a tangible benefit if ever there was one! Keep your hook focused and one or two sentences long, and you can’t go wrong.
More often than not, here’s where you’ll get your favorable interruption if your hook is doing its job. VITO is likely to cut in and say something like:
“Interesting tell me all about it.”
“How did you pull that off in this economy?”
“I have absolutely no interest.”
Don’t worry. You’ll be learning how to deal with any not-so-favorable interruptions, in another one of my high value articles.
As I said, you’ll almost certainly get interrupted by this point. For the sake of completeness, though, you need to complete developing your opening statement, so you know what to say in those cases where you don’t get interrupted at this point.
Key Ingredient 4: Naming Names
Once you’ve shared your hook, VITO knows the reason for your call. The cat’s out of the bag. This is the perfect time to identify yourself and, if you’d like, your organization. If you choose to identify your employer, give it a brief “commercial.” What you say will fit in one sentence. It should sound like this:
“This is Will, Will Prosper, with ABC Insurance Company the hardest working company it the insurance industry today.”
Key Ingredient 5: Your Ending Question
If you don’t get interrupted by this point, you’re going to conclude your opening statement with an ending question that incorporates some element of time.
“Ms. Importanta, does this touch on issues that are of concern to you this (month/year/quarter)?”
“Mr. Benefito, are you wanting to accomplish something like this by the end of this (quarter/year)?”
“Ms. Importanta, what’s the best way to explore this further?”
“Mr. Benefito, who on your team would you like for me to continue this conversation with between now and the end of this business (day, week)?”
Putting it all together:
Here’s an example of an opening statement for VITO that works. Yours shouldn’t sound exactly like this one, but it should be about this long, and it should, like what follows, hit all the bases you’ve been reading about.
Prospect: This is VITO.
You: “Ms. Importanta?”
You: “(Pleasantry) It was a pleasure to read that your company has successfully expanded into the European marketplace. By the way… (Hook) After studying another client’s operation, we suggested an idea that provided revenue gains of over $25,000 per year. The real surprise is that we did this without taking one bit of their hard earned capital. (Your Name) This is Will Prosper at Zenith. (Ending Question) similar or greater results may be tough to duplicate. But would you be open to taking the next step between now and the end of this business week?”
Again you shouldn’t try simply to insert your company specifics into the messaging you see above. You should use all the ideas in this article, and most importantly make sure you read all of my articles and use what you read!