Sales Coaching Series, Part 24: Final thoughts on making sales by phone

I asked you at the end of last week's blog to think about the types of questions that would grab the attention of the recipient and secure you a 10 minute window of airtime or ideally, face-to-face meeting with the decision-maker. Getting to the decision-maker can be one of the most challenging aspects of telesales.

If you are dealing with the receptionist or personal assistant to the decision-maker, very often they are trained to be the blocker and filter to prevent you from wasting their boss's time. This is a mini 40/30/20/10 scenario where you must build a quick relationship with the person on the other end of the phone, get to the needs, present and close. How do you do this?

Courtesy will never go amiss in situations like this. For example, you might say "I have been referred to Helen by Peter in company X, who tells me that she is the decision-maker for (our product/service). May I ask you is that correct"? (Answer is yes) "Great! So I wonder can you help me please?"

This "help me" is a great expression. When one human being asks another for help, rarely is the answer "no". So, asking for help to get this appointment and to, perhaps, make the person taking the call to become a bit of a "hero" in all of this process (because of arranging the appointment), is an added opportunity. By the way, if Peter in company X above, happens to be one of the senior bosses or executives in the company and the referral has come from on-high him, in other words, from the top down, now you are in a far better position of having the appointment granted.

If you happen to be put through to the decision-maker, there and then, your next big task is to secure this 10 minutes of face-to-face time. Explain that you will be brief. There will not be any pressure to make a decision. You need 10 minutes to SHOW your product or service. If the person asks you to send a brochure and so on, this is a classic get-out technique. Refuse nicely because, as you and I know, brochures , usually end up in the bin.

Try to explain that brochures don't work in your business...say it "very often brochures end up in the trash, and we don't want that". Certainly, encourage the decision-maker to refer to your website and any other social media commentary, however, your job is to get in front of the person to show.

What next? You must now be getting to the point where you are tying down the person to commit to the appointment.

"May I ask you to open your diary and we can book a time and date now?". If you have succeeded, try to always end telephone appointment conversations with an upbeat, positive statement like "I really think this is going to be great. You will be not be disappointed, I promise. I assure you that it will be your decision 100% and you will be the final judge of this".

So, can you see that this is a "low-pressure, no-pressure" approach? I am not saying, at all, that telesales is easy. Far from it. There is an old rule of thumb that when you are having a conversation with somebody, about 7% accounts for the words you say, 37% represents your tone of voice and the balance is body language. On the phone, the latter is completely absent so you have got to make up for this with your energy, smile, standing up, visualisation and positivity.You can use 100% of these when you get face-to-face, so make sure that you use the telephone to its maximum in order to secure this face-to-face appointment. If you are selling products or services where people are buying straight from over the telephone, we are into call centre techniques and the expertise that these businesses can bring to the mix.

One very good example of combining appointment setting with call centre skills was a company I dealt with a number of years ago. Very cleverly, they outsourced the appointment setting to an independent call centre. Now the sales people who came in on Monday morning, had warmed up leads and a diary full ahead for the week.

In other words, the sales people were now doing what they were paid to do, which was to get out amongst the prospects, build a relationship, listen to the needs, present the products and close the deals. If these sales people had also go through the difficult process of making appointments, being rejected, hearing "no" and so on, what would that have done to their enthusiasm?

If you are a sales manager or boss in the area of winning new business, consider outsourcing appointment setting to those outbound call centres who have the techniques, understand how to make focused marketing and sales calls and do not take "no" personally. This time-saving will create the space for your team to do what they do best, namely, SELL!

And no excuses this time!

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