Making Your First Call the Best Call with Kevin Dorsey
Sales has never been an easy job.
And, unfortunately, it’s not getting any easier. While there may be more tools at our disposal and more ways to contact prospects than ever before, it’s more difficult to actually secure a chunk of someone’s time.
After all, more technology just means that means that our prospects are getting hit up from every angle. Their inboxes are flooded. Their phones ring off the hook. And, as a result, it’s harder than ever to get someone to give you the time of day.
Of course, while our jobs as salespeople may be getting harder, there are still folks who manage to crush it. Despite increased competition, they find ways to break through, close deals at unbelievable rates, and build teams who can do the same.
Kevin Dorsey is one of those individuals.
As the VP of Inside Sales at PatientPop, Kevin has made a name for himself as one of the top sales professionals in the tech industry. TOPO named him the Top Account Development Executive at their 2018 Summit. And, Ambition recognized him on their 100 Sales Coaches You Should Know list.
Kevin was generous enough to swing by a recent SalesCollider event to meet with one of our client’s sales teams. He offered some great advice on sales scripts, seller tonality, and gap questions, among other topics. Kevin’s insight is heavily influenced by psychology (“All I read is psychology now,” he says early in his talk), and unbelievably useful for sellers and founders alike.
Building a “Perfect” Sales Script
In Kevin’s opinion, the sales script gets a bad rap. But to him, they’re the key to a successful sales operation.
“A lot of people hate scripts because they say they don’t work,” he says, “But really, that’s just their script. If you come to my team and ask the top performers why they’re doing so well, they’ll hold up the script.”
According to Kevin, one of the biggest mistakes sales execs make is imposing a pre-written script on their whole team. Instead, he says, each sales rep needs room to make the script their own. In his own operation, Kevin provides an outline structure (he prefers the word “structure” over “script”), that each rep can insert their personality into.
“I’ll write it, but then they have to make it theirs,” he says, “When we have a foundation, then you can make the script come alive. Maybe you’re a jokester, maybe you’re good with testimonials…you find that niche and you find a place to put it in the script.”
This approach helps his team to make natural-sounding cold-calls, as opposed to unnatural, robotic calls. After all, one of the biggest myths about sales scripts is that they make the salesperson sound like a computer.
“A script doesn’t sound anything,” he says, “The script is what is written down. If ya’ll sound robotic, it’s your fault. It’s not the script’s fault.”
The Importance of Tonality
“In a face-to-face conversation, tone makes up about 50% of the meaning of a word,” he says, addressing the audience of sales reps. “But, you’re all talking on the phone. So, for you, tone makes up about 93% of the meaning of a word”
In his sales call outlines, Kevin includes several different “tones” for his sellers to use. Each tone is intended to invoke a specific response at a different point in the call.
For example, Kevin instructs his sellers to use a “Lost in the City” tone when delivering their opening lines on prospecting calls. By asking for assistance (“I was wondering if you could help me with something…”) the seller can both disarm their prospect and activate their brain’s desire to help others.
“It feels pretty good to help people,” he says, explaining the rationale for this technique. “We’re triggered to feel good by helping our fellow men and women.”
When a prospect objects to a question, he advises us to use a “Thank God!” tone. If the prospect tells you that they already have a competitor's product, for example, you’d respond by saying, “Oh thank god, at least you have something. What are you using?” As opposed to letting the objection stop the conversation, this buys more time and opens up space for further discussion.
He stresses that, throughout the call, a seller should never sound like a salesperson. “I don’t know why, but salespeople use words and phrases that no one uses in real life,” he says.
“Like the word ‘currently’. Does anyone use that word in real life?” he asks before mimicking a sales rep on a cold call. “‘Are we currently looking at travel?’ There’s no need to put on this weird persona.”
Filling in the Gaps
“Gap questions” present a huge problem for some salespeople. Once they deliver their initial pitch and the prospect agrees to talk, many people freeze up. But, as Kevin points out, those first few questions can make or break the conversation.
“On a cold call, you get four or five questions before the person tells you they have to go,” he says.
Therefore, it’s important that we have questions on-hand that we can use to get the most out of the calls.
He advises against asking discovery questions too early in the call. “You have to earn the right to get to those discovery questions,” he says, “In the first thirty-five seconds, I’m trying to spark enough interest and curiosity that I can ask those questions.”
Instead, he recommends using “gap questions” to steer the sales conversation. “Don’t ask a question that you don’t know, with an 80% likelihood, what the answer could be,” he says. These pre-answered questions, he says, should help you make them more curious.
“Think about what you do better than anyone else,” he says, “Then ask how they are doing that thing that you can already do.”
But, you can’t just ask about the solutions they’ve already purchased. You have to show your knowledge about the industry, too. As Kevin points out, you can do this by asking about how they’re protecting themselves against potential problems with their current solution.
“How are you doing X to make sure that Y isn’t happening?” he asks, offering an example that both displays industry knowledge and allows the salesperson to show that they care.
The Illusion of Choice
When building gap questions, Kevin recommends having “lead answers” on hand to move the conversation forward. Essentially, lead answers are choices that you list off after you ask a question.
For example, instead of asking, “How do you ensure your current customers are happy?”, it’s better to ask, “How do you ensure your current customers are happy? Do you have a Customer Success team? Do you hold events? Do you have Customer Success software?”
Kevin explains that these leads make the conversation easier. They allow the prospect to stop thinking and go with the flow of the conversation. “You don’t want them to have to think,” he says, “This gives them the illusion of choice.”
Furthermore, as he points out, these choices prompt them to picture images in their head. When you ask about various Customer Success solutions, they start visualizing these images which, as Kevin tells us, turns off the logical part of the brain. This is useful, as the logical part of the brain is the part that could be telling them to get off the phone and get back to the other work they have to do.
A Seller without Practice is Useless
No matter how good the script is and how developed the gap questions are, nothing works 100% of the time. Nothing works on everyone,” Kevin says to the audience, “There’s no magic bullet script. If I could find it, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
But, with practice, every seller has the potential to be great.
In his operation, the sales team practices their calls over and over in order to perfect their techniques. Ultimately, this is how Kevin and his teams manage to stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape.
“Sales is getting harder, which means that we have to be better to get the same results we could get five years ago,” he says.
And, getting better is no accident. Getting better happens through trial and error, practice and process. It happens when sellers learn how to communicate with intention. “The best salespeople do this on purpose,” says Kevin.