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Do you want to talk about stress? Nothing is more stressful than receiving a stone cold phone inquiry and knowing that you have precious few seconds to develop rapport and set an appointment. Telephone sales is definitely the most difficult of all sales techniques to master. When you meet a prospect over lunch you have time to establish a relationship. In person you can read someone’s body language and social style.
Over the phone you must be able to read someone’s intentions through long distance telepathy. You must then be prepared to react to verbalized needs and deliver value within seconds. Talk about pressure!
Many sales people consider the phone something from which to hide. The phone rings and they freeze. Others can’t wait to get on the phone and book an appointment. It is the use of this basic sales tool which can make the difference between a mediocre producer and a super star. Here we will present some basic telephone techniques in order to successfully conquer telephone sales.
- Be up all the time. The secret to successful telephone sales is to be up all the time. Many feel that their prices or experience are what will attract someone over the phone. Yet, consumer surveys continuously show that people are sold over the phone by an empathetic voice. In other words, they buy from those they like. Being up is not always easy. We know what your offices are like. Sometimes there is someone screaming in the hall. Still, you must pick up the phone and let the person on the other line know how glad you are to receive their call. And it is not what you say. Plenty of people answer the phone and say that it is a great day. If you are feeling low and say it is a great day it sounds worse than yelling at the caller. The solution? Don’t answer the phone until you are ready.
- Follow-up. The secret to great sales? Intelligence? Great looks? None of the above! Just follow up with vengeance. Following up is a basic business principle. It is done so poorly today any attempt to shine will actually exceed your customer’s expectations!
- Control the conversation by listening. The art of sales is rightly known as the art of listening. The person in control is not talking. The person in control is learning. You may not know this but anytime you are talking too much over the phone, the caller on the other line has turned you off. If they had a remote control they would just switch stations.
- Ask questions. You get someone else to talk by asking questions. This means that you must have your questions prepared in advance and committed to memory. Asking questions is more than a sales technique. It is a way of life. There are some people who are more adept at answering questions than others.
- Use enabling statements. Just don’t start asking questions. This will be considered rude by the caller whose main purpose is to learn something from you. You must ask for the right to ask which entails the use of an enabling statement. A simple enabling statement would ask if it is all right to ask a few questions so that you are able to provide them with the correct information.
- Don’t forget to close. All the questions in the world are not worth anything unless you recognize the opportunities to close. The purpose of questions is to uncover needs. Closing is not a matter of rote techniques such as the alternative close or the Ben Franklin close. It is a matter of filling a need at the proper time. And—after you get the appointment—do not continue to close. Too many people have lost sales because they tried to educate over the phone.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Yes, telephone sales represents pressure. You must meet an objective with very little to go on with very little time. But you do have an advantage. You know what the person on the other end of the line is going to say. What’s the price? If you know what they are going to say, it is easier to devise a reply that will make them think. Again, this is not about rote questions and answers. It is about a conversation where you gain trust and uncover needs.
Have you ever hung up the phone and then said to yourself—I should have said that! There is a basic rule of telephone sales—you can’t get the conversation back. You must practice, practice and practice some more. Role playing with your peers is an excellent way of furthering your telephone skills. The alternative? Less sales & more stress!