The following is a true story about the power of a perfectly formatted VITO card. Before you pick up that 3,000-pound phone to make a sales call to any member of Suite ‘C’, including the CEO, read and remember this story.
Recently one of my salespeople had some trouble with the car, so I offered to drive it to work. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to do a little one-on-one role play, I suggested we review some phone dating skills. A well-proven statistic that you only have eight seconds to grab an executive’s attention. Daniel, I 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 not enough time to take a deep breath, let alone make a meaningful opening statement!”
At the next red light, when 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 hit “one thousand four,” Daniel was begging me to get moving. By the time we got to 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 arrived at eight, the intersection was a symphony of horns, “pointing fingers” and screaming mouths. I stepped on 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 suite ‘C’ members to buy; know the real benefits of your product, service or solution; and you have a good idea about the VITO tactics at your disposal. When you’re getting ready to pick up that 3,000-pound phone to call any ‘C’ level executive, including the CEO, what do you say to him?
Let’s also assume that you are calling a new potential customer:
You have decided to use the telephone to do this, either as a follow-up call for a written communication (see my article on Correspondence to VITO), or as your first contact without sending a correspondence.
Your goal is to either land an appointment or create the next step with VITO, who is the person who can actually buy whatever you are selling and the person who has the most veto power.
Three big goals:
1. Make it sound conversational.
2. Deliver it with confidence.
3. Get a favorable outage ASAP … one that clearly keeps VITO in check.
The Five Key Ingredients of Your Telephone Opening Statement
For now, assume VITO is going to take your own phone and not your 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 answer your own phone about 25% of the time.
Key ingredient 1: the introduction
Usually when VITO takes their own line, they say his name: “This is VITO” or “VITO Importanta speaking”. Your first step will be to repeat the VITO name. Keep things formal for now, use Mr. or Mrs., then VITO’s last name.
Prospectus: This is VITO.
You: Mrs. Important?
This first step will earn you the full attention of Ms. Importanta. Whatever he was doing before you said his name, now he stopped doing it. He’s paying attention to you and that’s a good thing!
What most salespeople do now, despite ample and repeated evidence that they shouldn’t, is say something totally silly like this: “Hi, Mrs. Jones. I’m Will Perish from ABC Insurance Company.”
Unless your name is, say, James Bond, or your company affiliation is, say, the Prize Disbursement Division of the Publishers Compensation House, or the IRS, I can tell you what will happen next in the big most of those calls. The potential customer will respond to this counterproductive “verbal handshake” by disconnecting, asking you to send written information, pretending the building just caught fire, or disconnecting from the call. In other words, it will only have been on the line for about a second and a half, and you are done.
Key Ingredient 2: Pleasure
Here’s an alternative plan (one that works). What I am about to tell you contradicts what you have been taught. Do it anyway.
You are going to say something positive and enthusiastic, something that does not directly identify you, your company or the product or service that you eventually want to discuss. It’s too early in the call for that … Instead you’ll use a joke, something like this:
• “It’s an honor to finally talk to you!”
• “Thanks for picking up the phone!”
• “Thanks for taking my call!”
• “What a surprise to make you live!”
Get the idea? Each and every one of these compliments will do a much better job for you than your name and company affiliation at the beginning of the conversation. Or say something totally silly like, “How are you today?” or “Do you have a minute?”
Key Ingredient 3: The Hook
Immediately after your prank, you are going to hook VITO’s intentional brain area using a hook that is directly connected to something that is likely to be of interest to this VITO.
“We have helped (three of the top five widget corporations) further increase shareholder value (increasing revenue by as much as 4% annually) while staying in line on (top line item expenses).”
Now, there is a tangible benefit if there ever was one! Keep your hook focused and a sentence or two long, and you can’t go wrong.
Most of the time, this is where you will get a favorable interruption if your hook is doing its job. VITO is likely to interrupt and say something like:
“Interesting, tell me everything.”
“How did you do that in this economy?”
“I have absolutely no interest.”
Do not worry. You’ll learn how to deal with not-so-favorable interruptions in another of my high-value items.
Like I said, you will almost certainly be interrupted at this point. However, for the sake of completeness, you should complete the development of your opening statement, so that you know what to say in those cases where you are not interrupted at this time.
Key Ingredient 4: Name Names
Once you have shared your hook, VITO will know the reason for your call. The cat is out of the bag. This is the perfect time to identify yourself and, if you wish, your organization. If you choose to identify your employer, give him a short “business.” What you say will fit into a sentence. It should sound like this:
“This is Will, Will Prosper, with ABC Insurance Company, the hardest-working company in the insurance industry today.”
Key ingredient 5: your final question
If you are not interrupted at this point, you will conclude your opening statement with a final question that incorporates some element of time.
“Mrs. Importanta, does this touch on issues that concern you this (month / year / quarter)?”
“Mr. Benefito, do you want to achieve something like this at the end of this (quarter / year)?”
“Ms. Importanta, what is the best way to explore this further?”
“Mr. Benefito, with whom on your team would you like to continue this conversation between now and the end of this business (day, week)?”
Putting it all together:
Here is an example of an opening statement for VITO that works. Yours shouldn’t sound exactly like this, but it should be that long, and it should, like what follows, hit all the bases you’ve been reading about.
Prospectus: This is VITO.
You: “Mrs. Importanta?”
Prospectus: Yes …
You: “(Complacency) It was a pleasure to read that your company has successfully expanded into the European market. By the way … (Hook) After studying another client’s operation, we suggested an idea that delivered more income gains. $ 25,000 per year. The real surprise is that we did this without taking some of your hard-earned capital. (His name) This is Will Prosper at Zenith. (Final question) Similar or greater results can be difficult to duplicate. But would you be willing to take the next step between now and the end of this work week? “
Again, you shouldn’t just try to insert your business details into the messages 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!