How to Disrupt Sales Calls (In A Good Way!)

BY Jessica Helinski
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Not many salespeople seek to disrupt sales calls; but they should. While we may have a negative image of disruption, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. A disruption shakes things up and causes changes. In sales, it can actually be used to your advantage. “Questions, actions, and behaviors that have the power to change the conversation and how the client sees you,” explains LinkedIn’s Paul Petrone.

Disrupt sales calls with three phrases

In fact, Petrone shares three phrases that salespeople can use to cause these disruptions:

  1. Help me understand…”
  2. Sorry, I didn’t get that.”
  3. What matters to you is what matters most to me.”

With these phrases, Petrone says reps can jolt a conversation, as well as a prospect’s way of thinking. They can be especially helpful during the first sales call with a prospect, immediately grabbing their attention and setting you apart from just another sales caller.

Help me understand…”

This phrase can disrupt sales calls because it instantly shows the prospect you care. You establish yourself as a salesperson who is emotionally intelligent and is seeking to understand the prospect, not just sell to them. “…you aren’t just delivering your customer the same rehearsed sales pitch you’ve given a million times before,” Petrone writes. “Instead, you are looking to understand why they are talking to you and how your solution can possibly help them.”

This question also helps you really get to the challenges and feelings of the prospect. Rather than simply brushing you off or giving a generic answer, this phrase encourages them to explain an aspect of their business to you. By hearing their perspective and thoughts on the issue, you can more effectively structure a solution.

Not sure how to use this phrase to disrupt sales calls? Here are examples of how to integrate it into your conversation:

  • Help me understand what your priorities are.
  • Help me understand the biggest challenge you are facing right now.
  • Help me understand what your current solution isn't doing.

Sorry, I didn’t get that.”

This phrase can disrupt sales calls by shifting the prospect’s image of salespeople. Many people still hold outdated assumptions about salespeople, often of the old-​school image of a salesperson who is arrogant and self-​absorbed. This phrase contradicts that image.

As Petrone explains, “People assume salespeople will never admit that they don’t know something or weren’t paying attention and missed something. People also assume that sales professionals don’t listen. This is part of the salesperson stereotype that is cemented in so many prospects’ minds.” This, he adds, is the reason this phrase can be so powerful. You are admitting that you missed something, which breaks that held stereotype and shifts the dynamic.

Note that there is a caveat to using this phrase: Don’t fake it. While you want to appear humble, you also want to be honest. Pretending you missed something just to create this moment can do more harm than good.

Disrupt the call and stereotypes

These phrases, along with the last one that Petrone suggests, can help you instantly impact the conversation, but in a good way. By saying something that the prospect doesn’t expect, especially during that very first call, you do two things. First, you snag their attention and make them pause, which can be helpful if they weren’t happy about hearing from yet another salesperson. And second, you establish yourself as a credible, empathetic and curious seller who isn’t like ones they’ve dealt with in the past. 

These are disruptions because they go against the expectations of the prospect. As he points out, “They are expecting you, the salesperson, to maybe ask a few questions, pretend to listen, and then rattle off your pitch. You can disrupt that simply by genuinely caring and listening well…sales professionals who do embrace these ideas will differentiate themselves in a way that can create customers for life.”

For tips on how to prepare for those sales calls, check out SalesFuel's free e‑book, The 7 C's of Pre-​Call Intelligence. 

Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova from Pexels