How to Improve Sales Phone Calls
I know it’s painful and it seems boring making sales calls but the better you become on the phone, the more appointments you’ll have in the sales field, and the more successful you will be as a sales rep. Some of you may already be great telemarketers, but for many of you it’s a struggle. I know it was a struggle for me when I first started in sales. Below I’ve listed tools and tips for you to be successful in setting appointments on the phone.
Interest Creating Sales Statements – People refer to these by other names like “conversation starters”, “lead in sales statements”, or “statements of interest”. However the function of an interest creating statement is to get the prospect thinking about your product or service. It is not designed to get them to buy; that part comes later. At this point all you want to do is peak their interest, and start a dialogue. Therefore it must be a non-threatening statement.
“Dr. Gellar, I’m Tom with ABC Medical, and I had an idea that I think will help you improve your patient outcomes and reduce Length Of Stay following surgery.”
“Frank, I can reduce your cost of production, by offering low energy components that we can integrate into your existing system. ”
“Jim, I have a product which can improve sales and employee morale at the same time.”
All three of those statements have benefits for the customer. Keep this in mind, because the customer or prospect will not meet with you unless there is a “WIIFM” – What’s In It For Me. As a result you need to create interest in your product right away. If you don’t mention how meeting with you will be of some benefit to the decision maker, then you will NEVER make an appointment or get any sales.
I’ll give you an example, when you walk into a department store looking for a new pair of shoes you already know why you are there and what you want to buy. Correct? You know the benefits of the shoes you’re going to buy, if it’s a sports shoe, they’re going to help you performance. If it’s a fashionable shoe that shoe is going to elevate your appearance. You know what the benefit already is, but you have to choose the right shoe for you. If a clerk sees you in a store holding a shoe and looking at it, he or she invariably says, “May I help you?”, which is the world’s stupidest opener for retail. It’s like saying “Hi! You look like you have no idea what you’re doing, but I need sales and I’m here to annoy you.” There is no benefit to a customer whom you open with “How may I help you”. If instead that clerk said, “I know you don’t want to be bothered, but that shoe is 20% off today.” Then you might be interested. It’s a non threatening statement with a benefit… in your wallet. Or forget the savings part, if the clerk said, “That shoe your holding comes in a green which would match your handbag.” This is more in line with a woman’s sense of taste than a man’s but still creates interest.
The idea behind these statements is to get you to think about why people buy and to tailor your phone approach to the specific needs of your customer. All too often which just go through the motions of the sales call and really don’t pay attention to what our customer is saying. We are on the phone waiting for them to say “yes” to meeting with us, or we are waiting to tell them the features and benefits of our products but not listening to what they are actually saying. Keep in mind, unless you work in the catalog business you will never make a sales over the phone.
Make your calls, get them on the phone, and use an interesting creating statement designed specifically for them to sell an appointment. Your goal on the phone is to get the appointment not sell the customer. You can sell them when you get in front of them. That’s sales in a whim.
Phone Voice - A good phone voice is very important to securing appointments. Customers want to feel confident in the person they are speaking with on the phone. If you are quiet and reserved, they won’t hear you. If you sound “mousy” and not confident they will smell blood in the water and dump your call overboard right away. If you’re too loud they’ll get annoyed and hang up on you. So it’s important to have the right tone and demeanor when on the phone. Not too loud and not too soft, but just like your carrying on a conversation with the person next to you. I understand that “loud” reps, feel it necessary to be loud on the phone, but this doesn’t always work. Follow the three A’s when it comes to your phone voice:
Be:Audible- You need people to hear you clearly, so speak up.
Appropriate- Don’t feel so comfortable you act like an idiot and say the wrong thing to a prospect to lose sales. Even if you’re trying to be funny.
Assured- You need to sound confident about yourself and about your product to gain more sales. People buy from people who display confidence is their product or service.
Enthusiasm - Years ago, I took over a branch who’s sales and service teams were faultering badly, and had been for years. At corporate they called this group “The Outlaws”, because they seem to run each new manager out of town, just like outlaws in the Old West. When I went into the branch to take over, I was expecting chaos. The office in a complete shambles, people drinking on the job, monkeys running around the offices (Don’t ask me why but I always associate monkeys with chaotic situations). However this was not the case at all. In fact, all these people really lacked was someone to lead them with enthusiasm.
Everyone hated their jobs. From the receptionist to the drivers to the sales reps: they hated themselves and they hated the company. Why? They felt like a number. Their boss didn’t have enthusiasm, so why should they? I didn’t do anything great, I just got them involved. Started out with cook outs after work, sat down with them and got feedback. I listened to what they had to say and empowered them to do something about their situation. And guess what, they suddenly became enthusiastic about the job. In fact so much so, that we won every growth contest they had for the next 3 years. What changed? Their enthusiasm. When you’re on the phone…”Bring It!” Customers will feel that enthusiasm and want to meet with you if you’re enthusiastic about life, you don’t even need to be selling a product. People want to have a positive interaction with a person, no matter what’s being sold.
Who Do I Call?- This is a typical question I get from new and used sales reps. “Who do I call to get the most appointments?”, or “These leads aren’t very good, I’m not getting any appointments”. My response was usually the same every time. If you’re a sales rep and you’re asking your manager who you should call on to get appointments, then you’re either extremely new or extremely stupid. You should know who to call on, if you have any experience at all in sales. If you don’t know who to call or your blaming leads for your lack of appointments, get out of sales NOW! If you don’t know who you’re calling on, then sit down and think about it. And answer these two simple questions:
- What am I selling?
- Who can benefit from what I am selling?
When you find the answer to those 2 simple questions, then you’ll know who to call on.
By Appointment Only- As a manager I hated and I mean HATED, the “drive by” appointment. Some reps would schedule these all stinking day, and I would just ride in the car and get irritated. I would ask questions like, “Do they know were stopping by? They might get pissed if we just drop in on them.” Reps who can’t make appointments over the phone typically have a lot of these so called “appointments” set up. What they’re really doing is just killing time til then end of the workday. You need to make sure when you’re on the phone that the prospect, client or customer is aware of the time and date of the appointment. This can be difficult so here’s a few tips to insure they know you’re coming:
“Do mornings or afternoons work better for you to meet with me?” This is a very non threatening way to suggest a time and get them to agree to meet.
“I can meet you on Friday at 10 am, and if you don’t like what I have to say, I will bend over and you can personally kick my ass out the door.” Believe it or not, this one works almost every time. Why? Cause it’s funny, and it is very non threatening. In fact, it proposes at threat in the other direction. At the sales rep!
“Are you on Outlook right now or do you have your schedule in front of you?”This is again very non threatening and it’s getting the prospect ready to work your appointment into his/her busy schedule. They don’t have to commit to a time, but if the schedule is right there and it’s telling them there is time on Wednesday, they will be more than likely to pencil you in.
It is imperative that you GET AN APPOINTMENT! “Drive-byes” only work in gang related activity and then it always lead to prison. If you insist on doing drive byes then you’ll end up in Sales Prison. Locked up with nowhere to go and no funnel for new business.
Typical Phone Objections- You can be the best person on the phone in history and there will always be objections to meeting you in the field. It just happens. No person is that good that they can gain an appointment every time. Naturally, you shouldn’t be frustrated if the prospect or client tells you “No”. In fact you’ll get many more “No’s” than appointments so get used to the rejection. But remember, they’re not rejecting you personally, just the appointment. Keep this in mind. Here is a list of typical phone objections.
I’m happy with what we are doing/using now
We’ve use your product/service before and had a bad experience
We are locked into a contract
Send me some stuff from your company and I’ll look it over
Stop by and drop me off some samples/quote
All of these are standard objections for many industries, goods, or services. This is a typical customer response to a phone call because like you the rep, they hate setting appointments on the phone. In fact, the customer hates being cold called worse than the sale rep hates making the call. How do you like that, two people on the phone not wanting to be on the phone, and some how business still gets done. It’s a miracle! However the way to overcome those objections to meeting with you comes down to one simple word:
Sales Phone Calls 101 – EMPATHIZE
If you want to win over customers think about the last time you were called at home. And I don’t care if it’s to be solicited, called for collection of money, or anything at all. It felt like an intrusion didn’t it? It felt like the person was invading your personal space, and trying to get you to do something you didn’t want to do. Am I right? Think about how you felt and prior to calling the customer or prospect think about how to empathize with what he/she is saying. This works especially well with women who are more prone to like a rep who is empathetic to their needs.
As an example, my response to the objection “We’re Happy” would be this: “I am so glad for you. That is great, but I don’t want to sell you anything. I just want to meet with you and position ourselves as an alternative just in case what you’re doing now changes in the future.”
To take it one step further, while working in medical sales I notice that TIME is a big factor for doctors and nurses. So to ingratiate myself to healthcare professionals I would start my meetings as such, “I know you’re all terribly busy, and I know that meeting with reps takes up your valuable time. And let’s face it. Reps can be annoying, and not really worth your time. So I’ll keep it short, sweet, and make it worth it for you.”
Talk about setting up the meeting for a home run. They would love that, but I was just being honest. A lot of sale reps are ANNOYING. They’re overly pushy, arrogant, and some wear too much cologne/perfume. Self-deprecation goes a long way in getting prospects to trust you. Try it.
So whenever you receive any objection think about the objection and create an empathetic response. “I understand, I can appreciate your position”, or “I hear you and understand”. I like that last one because it’s both empathetic and tells them that you’re actively listening. Be empathetic just don’t throw in an “I feel ya dog…” That’s almost a guarantee you’ll lose sales; unless your selling to a rapper.
Confirm, Confirm, Confirm- In my long sales career I had a few instances, where I didn’t confirm the time and place for an appointment because I was so damn happy to just get to see the person. I remember a really big appointment with my manager riding with me, and I assumed the business was at the same address it had always been. I had been calling on this person and this business for years. It was my “White Whale”, and I was finally going to talk with the purchasing manager. As we drove, my manager and I were pre-call planning for ten minutes in the car, when I pulled up to an empty lot. Apparently the company had moved more than 20 minutes away to a new facility. I called the contact person and fortunately he thought it was hilarious and still met with us, but that could have been a major mistake on my part.
PHONE TIP: Once you get the appointment confirm the address, the date and the time, in order to “cement” the meeting in the prospect’s mind and calendar. if you want any help with getting more sales or would like life coaching to get more sales then you can check out my other posts and see how it could help you get more sales.
To your many success,
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.
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