As recruiters, being great on the phone is essentially what puts food on our tables. But no one’s ever going to be 100% perfect at it, and often we make tiny mistakes during calls that we don’t even realise we’re making. Taking steps to eliminate these small mistakes can have big results!
So let’s take a look at some of these prospecting call mistakes you’re probably making nearly every day. Put these blunders behind you and you can expect more meetings with potential clients, more jobs on, and in return, more placements.
Greeting them like a salesperson
We’ve all overheard that person in the office sounding so over-enthusiastic on a call that it makes you want to spew into your morning coffee. Well, guess what - that’s exactly what the prospect will be thinking too.
If you’ve never spoken to someone before, don’t start the call as though you’ve known them your entire life. It only makes you sound false and will instantly prompt them to pigeon-hole you as ‘just another sales caller’. Instead, try using a genuine greeting that’s personable but a bit low key in tone. Your prospect won’t expect this, and they’ll be likely to stay on the phone for longer as a result.
Need some inspo? Here’s a rundown of some of the best opening lines to use in recruitment sales calls.
Talking too much
The best piece of sales advice I’ve ever been given is this: You have one mouth and two ears for a reason! Try to listen more, and never interrupt a prospect. And I’m not even talking about cutting them off mid-sentence – I’m talking about cutting them off mid-silence.
Sometimes a few seconds of silence can feel like an eternity, but some of the best bits of information I get from prospects are the two or three seconds after you would assume they’ve finished speaking. We want to be liked by our prospects, but when active listening turns into active interrupting, you’ve got a problem.
Give them some time to process and think. An effective trick here is to respond to the answer that a prospect gives you with yet another question – one that closely relates to the previous one and prompts them to elaborate further on what they’ve just said. This shows you’re not just listening, but keen to know more. It also prevents you from trying to force-fill gaps, or interrupting with statements like “that’s interesting” and “that’s great” when the prospect is in the middle of trying to tell you something (as well-intended as these phrases of encouragement may be!).
Not having a plan B in place
How many times have you called a prospect only to be met with the statement “I don’t have time to talk right now”? And how many times have you realised when hearing this that you’ve got nothing to say in response, and before you know it the call has ended? It’s extremely frustrating when this happens, and if it happens a few times in a row it can have a real impact on your confidence.
If we’re honest, we all know that 99% of the time it’s not really that the prospect doesn’t have time to talk (if this was the case, they wouldn’t have answered the call in the first place). Unfortunately, this normally just means that they don’t want to talk to you. The next time this happens, try saying the following instead:
“No problem, I understand. But would you mind if I just took another twenty seconds to explain why I’m calling? After that, you can hang up if it doesn’t make sense to you.”
You’d be surprised by the positive response that you can get from this objection handling technique. As most recruiters will just give up at this point, giving it one last shot to convince them that what you have to say is worth hearing will catch them off guard, and they’re likely to feel they should spare you those twenty seconds as a result.
Referencing when you last spoke
Strangely enough, I was actually taught to do this in a previous role, but I’ve since realised it’s not a good approach to follow-up calls. The technique went something like this: Have a quick check on the CRM to see when you last had a call with a prospect, check over the call notes and start your call…
“Hi Lisa, when we spoke six months ago back in June, you said you were going to chat to your business partner about using agencies. How did that go?”
You might think this just demonstrates you remember the prospect well, but in practice this will only make them feel as though they’re being checked up on – a sure-fire way to get someone’s back up!
Instead, go for something like “Hi Lisa, what was your business partner’s views on using agencies?”. This slightly softer but more impactful approach will get you the answer you want without bringing the chat to an abrupt end because you’ve annoyed them. In the second example, you’ve reminded Lisa subtly of her promise without making her feel like she’s being held hostage!
These are just some of the mistakes salespeople make on the phone every day. If you make twenty prospecting calls a day and stop doing just one of the things I’ve mentioned in this list, imagine how many more successful calls you’ll have in the year! Small marginal gains make all the difference in this profession. If you have any phone blunders of your own to share, share them with us in the comments.
Cameron McLennan works within recruitment technology industry. Outside of work, he loves spending time with his family and playing golf.