....You Can Use Right Now
1. Have a primary objective for each call, defined as, “What do I want them to do as a result of this call, and what do I want to do?”
2. Prepare questions for our call using your call objective. Ask yourself, “How can I persuade them to take this action as a result of asking questions, as opposed to talking?” Remember, people believe more in their own ideas than yours.
3. Also have a secondary objective for each call... something you’ll strive to accomplish at minimum, every time. Pick something you’ll have a reasonably good chance to succeed with, such as, “Getting their agreement they will accept my literature and place it in their file”. This way you can enjoy success on every call you place, and that does wonders for your attitude.
Before Reaching the Decision Maker
4. Treat the ‘screener’ or secretary as you would the customer - this person determines whether or not you’ll even have a chance to speak with the buyer.
5. Gather as much information as you can from whomever you are able, prior with speaking with your prospect, busy decision makers get bored when they have to answer your basic qualifying questions. Use the “Help” technique: “I hope you can help me. So, I’m better prepared when I speak with X, there’s probably some information you could provide me...”
6. Have a reason for needing to speak with the decision maker and be prepared to sell this to the ‘screener’/secretary. What they’re thinking: “Does this person have anything of interest, or of value for the boss?”
7. If leaving a message on voicemail, or with a screener, be certain it offers a hint of benefit/result that sparks curiosity but doesn’t talk about products/services.
8. The objective of your opening is to pique curiosity and interest so that they will willingly and enthusiastically move to the questioning. You must answer, “What’s in it for me?” for the listener, or they will immediately begin the getting-rid-of you process.
9. Don’t use goofy, resistance inducing phrases like, “If I could show you a way to____, would you?” The only decision you’re looking in the opening is the one to continue speaking with you.
10. When prospecting don’t start the call with, “I was just calling people in your area...” People want to feel like they’re the only person you’re calling...not just one of the masses from a list of names.
11. Use conditional words when opening prospecting calls: “depending on,” “might,” “maybe,” “perhaps,” and “possibly.” These are non threatening words that suggest that you might have something of value for them, but you really need to ask questions first. For example, “depending on what you’re now doing to increase the rate of information flow and reduce short term costs, Sterling Software might have something that could manage this. I’d like to ask you a few questions to see if this is something you’d like more information on.”
12. Have something of value to say on every call, particularly those regular calls to existing customers. Avoid, “just checking in to see if you need anything,” and “just calling to touch base.” These are more nuisance than service. Be certain they’re able to say they are better off after you call them than they were before it, even if they didn’t buy anything. Call with news they’ll have an interest in, ideas you’ve heard from other customers they might be able to take advantage of, mention that you were “thinking of them” and tell them why. When is the last time one of your suppliers called to say“I’ve just come back from a trade show and saw something interesting that you could benefit from.” It’s little things like that, that cause customers to say, “S/he always has something interesting for me when s/he calls,” as opposed to, “every time they call they just look for an order.”
13. Get information before you give it. How could you make an effective presentation otherwise?
14. Don’t use a ‘benefit list’ to present from. Instead, use it to create questions to determine if those ‘benefits’ truly are of value to your prospects and customers. Some ‘benefits’ could actually be liabilities.
15. Avoid asking go-nowhere questions like, “is everything going okay?”, “what are your needs?”, “are you having any problems now?”, “how’s service?”, and “what are you looking for in a vendor?” These all force the person to think too much. instead get hem emotionally involved in seeing and feeling the pain or problem that our product/ service can solve - especially problems you know they’re likely experiencing. For example, “what do you do when you in situations when you need parts shipped overnight, but you don’t know if you have them in stock?”
16. Ask one question at a time. That’s how many they’ll answer at a time.
17. After asking, be quiet. Resist the urge to jump in if they don’t answer immediately. Don’t be intimated by silence. They’re likely thinking about what they’re going to say.
18. After they’ve finished, count to two (silently, of course). This ensures they’re done, plus they might continue with even better information.
19. Be confident in your questioning. One reason why telesales people ramble with questions is that they’re not prepared or confident. Prepare your questions. Role play them - with yourself if necessary.
20. Remember to acknowledge the answers, regardless of the answer.
21. Follow up their answers with relaxed questions. Don’t work to a rigid list of questions, losing the opportunity to pick up on prospect statements which are just the tip of the iceberg of their real feelings. For example, if the prospect said. “I believe the main reason production isn’t higher is a lack of motivation.” The best way to respond is, “I see. What specific signs of poor motivation have you noticed?”, or simply, “tell me more.”
22. Quantify the problem whenever possible. “How often does that happen?” “How much do you think that is costing you?” “How much time does that take?”
23. Resist the tendency to present. Some telesales people become so excited when they hear the slightest hint of an opportunity, that they turn to telling about the wonderful benefits of their product/service. Hold off, ask a few more questions, get better information and you’ll be able to craft an even harder-hitting description of benefits, tailored precisely to what they’re interested in.
24. Learn more about the decision making process. There could many behind the scenes influences on the decision. Ask about actual users of your products/service, anyone else who could influence it, who has to sign off on the ultimate decision or okay the money for it and perhaps people who would rather not see it happen.
25. Again, you should only talk about your product/service after knowing specially how it will solve the problem, met their needs etc. Then you can tailor your remarks specifically and personally for the customer.
26. Get feedback during your discussion of benefits. “Do you feel that that would work for you?” “How do you feel that would solve your problem? ”Some trainers might tell you that gives the prospect an opportunity to tell you “no”. Precisely. That’s good. Because if there is a problem, and they don’t see enough value in what you have presented, now is the time to find out.
27. Avoid the question, “anything else?” when attempting to upsell. Just like when a department store salesperson asks the same question, the answer is usually “NO”. Instead give them a suggestion and help them answer. For example, after they have agreed to buy an item or a service, say, “Many of our customers who get ____ from us, also find that ____ is also very beneficial for them. What are you now doing/using/buying in that area?”
Getting Commitment (Closing)
28. This is not the major event in a sales call. It’s the natural, logical, validation of the professional sales process up to this point. But you still must ask. Commitment must
be gained in every contact to move the process forward. If there is to be a follow-up contact, and information is to be sent or faxed, there must be commitment on behalf of the prospect regarding that material.
29. Ask large. Think big. Buyers will often move down from a large recommendation, but they rarely move up from a small one. Those who ask biggest have the largest average order size. Never suggest more than is in the best interest of the customer, but not making a large enough suggestion when appropriate is actual hurting the customers.
30. When in doubt, ask. Ask for a decision! Get some action. A “no” today is better than one in six months and 15 additional calls from now. Move them forward or move them out.
31. If you’re going to schedule a follow-up call, get commitment of some type. Why would you call back otherwise? If they won’t commit to doing anything - reviewing your literature and preparing questions, surveying their existing inventory etc. they’re likely to have no interest.
Addressing Resistance (Objections)
32. Objections can be avoided by doing everything else correctly up o this point in the call. When they do occur, resist the tendency to attack in defence. You must back up and revisit the questioning phase of the call. The voiced objection is simply a symptom of the real problem. Start by saying, “Let’s talk about that.”
33. If you have an indecisive prospect, get their mind off the buying decision, and on the problem or pain.
For example, “Jan, let’s look at this another way. What would happen if you did nothing about the situation? Remember, we just detailed the fact that you’re missing sales opportunities every day. What will that amount to over the next six months?”
34. Most price objections start in the mind of the salesperson. Many SR’s aren’t 100% sold on the value of their product., therefore, they’re apt to offer price concessions even when the prospect doesn’t ask, or they present price with a shaky tone of voice. Ask the right questions, present the results of what your product/service can do, and state the price boldly.
35. Avoid Common Objection Mistakes. Using, slick, prepared rebuttal objections that only tell people they’re wrong and intensifies the resistance; giving up before attempting to understand the reason behind the problem.
Wrapping Up, and Setting Up the Next Action
36. When sending information, samples, demos etc., know precisely how they will evaluate the material. How will they know if they like it? What criteria will they use? This way, you’ll both be clear as to what would need to happen in order for them to buy.
37. When sending material, prepare them as to what they should look for. Otherwise, they’ll get a package of materials and say, “Oh, there’s a package of materials,” and then toss it on the mountain of other stuff in their office. But, if you tell them to look for the catalogue that will be open to the page with the product they are interested in, and you’ll have the three or four models highlighted that are most appropriate for them, there would be a greater likelihood they’d look at it.
38. The success of your follow-up call is directly related to what you accomplish, and how you ended the previous one. Never say, “I’ll send you out some stuff, and we’ll go from there.” From where? Summarise agreed-to-actions by both parties, including what happened, what they’re interested in, and what will happen next. Also, set the agenda for the next call.
It makes it so much easier to prepare for the follow-up call, and helps you avoid starting calls with the useless question, “I sent you the material, did you get it”, or “what do you think of the material I sent?” For example, “OK Pat, I’ll send the proposal detailing the quantity price breaks. What you’ll do is compare that to what you’re getting now, and if we’re within 5%, you’ll agree on a trial order on our next call, is that right?”
Your Attitude and Self-Motivation
39. You never have to experience rejection again. After all, what id rejection? It’s not an experience-it’s your definition of the experience. So, ensure that you accomplish something with each call, and you can hold your head high with a sense of achievement. Remember, a decision of any type is better than shadow-chasing someone who will waste your time with statements that cause you to believe there’s a chance, when, in fact, there’s not.
40. A good way to end a call where you don’t accomplish
your primary objection/ive (and never to experience rejection) is to plant a seed for the future. Give them something to look for, based upon what you uncovered during the call...something that just might cause them to call you back. For example, “Pat, it looks like we don’t have a fit here, today, but I suggest that if ever you need an emergency job to be finished, and don’t have the staff to handle it, give us a call. We specialise in those type of projects and would love to talk with you.” Everyone has been surprised by written-off prospects who later called to order. This is the way to make it proactively happen more often.
41. Imagine every day is the end of quarter. When you coast you go downhill. Get focused on a goal and pursue it single minded determination.
42. As a sales professional using the phone as your main method of communication, you perform a function that very few people in the world can do well or would even want to try. That’s persuading someone to take action and to and make a decision, based almost solely on the words and ideas that come from your mouth. It’s quite an awesome feat when you think about it. And do think about it. It takes a talented individual to be able to do that well. You are that person. Feel proud of what you do, and always strive to get better!
By Art Sobczak from How to Sell More, in Less Time, With No Rejections, Using Common Sense Telephone Techniques.