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Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) have a constant focus on moving quality leads through the pipeline. By reaching out to contacts, they attempt to discover which ones have needs that fit within the scope of offered solutions. Those that qualify progress to the seller.

In recent years, technology has made the job of the SDR easier — and more difficult. Why? Advancements in sales and marketing automation allow the SDR to access more contacts in less time. This benefit of inside sales, however, is offset by new challenges. As technological capabilities rise, the expectations of those using the tools rise in lockstep. Therefore, SDRs must uncover the contact’s true, underlying business need fast, and then move to the next call.

However, assessing the customer’s needs, especially under time constraints, is difficult. Moreover, many customers believe that their needs go unheard. “From the customer’s point of view, the greatest need for improvement is in salespeople’s knowledge of the customer’s business and industry,” reports The Harvard Business Review after interviewing hundreds of professionals. SDRs need a new framework for uncovering the customer’s key challenges quickly so that they can eventually set the seller up for success.

Today, SDRs are discovering that a consultative approach provides the tools to reveal customer needs fast by avoiding self-serving tendencies, taking ownership of the conversation, and legitimising their presence.

Avoid Self-Serving Tendencies

First impressions come fast. In the first few moments of the telephone sales phone conversation, the customer will form a positive or negative impression. All subsequent exchanges will be viewed as a reinforcement of this initial assessment. Therefore, the SDR must demonstrate their commitment to the customer early and often. They can do so by asking incisive questions that keep the focus on the customer while helping to understand the central problem within their business. Following this approach means avoiding leading questions that make a customer feel like they’re being backed into a corner. SDRs must also remember not to resort to questions that only serve to identify the monetary value of the business. If the seller is going to be successful, they need to know the base needs exactly as the customer knows it.

Take Ownership of the Conversation

“Ownership” here means determining what you want from the call in advance and getting it before the conversation ends. For this to occur, the SDR must take ownership of the call. While the focus should remain on the customer, the SDR needs to drive the dialogue with concise phrasing that respects their time, as well as the customer’s, while ensuring that the most critical questions get answered. At the same time, the SDR must be comfortable with silence as the customer articulates their needs. Additionally, the SDR needs to demonstrate their preparation by offering only the most relevant insights. It’s important to note that taking ownership of the conversation doesn’t mean doing all of the talking. In fact, an effective SDR will steer the conversation toward the customer to ensure that more information comes from them. Each call needs to follow a game plan.

Legitimising Presence

Often, the customer is as pressed for time as the SDR. Therefore, the SDR should concisely legitimise their presence with a value statement that addresses what’s important to the customer, how the seller can help, and expected outcomes. This approach validates the purpose of the call. A customer needs a compelling reason to stay in the conversation. A value statement helps accomplish this. Vague generalities will not work.

For an SDR, unlocking the value of inside sales means taking an approach that can work within a fast-paced environment. Excellence in Consultative Telephone Selling achieves this end.

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