Selling on the Telephone: Part 1

By: Thomas Young

The telephone has become the sales professional’s greatest tool. It meets customer needs, is cheaper and more effective than other forms of direct response marketing. Telemarketing is in a growth phase and is expanding as a sales outlet for small to giant companies. Yet, many consumers and businesses are very vocal in their dislike for telemarketing. However, they overlook the fact that every year millions of people are buying on the phone. Here are a few tips on how to effectively sell and market your products and services over the telephone.

Be Non-Threatening

In your phone presentations, be the person people would like to talk to and get to know better. Do this in your voice mail messages, with gatekeepers and screeners and decision-makers. The key is to listen and ask probing questions. Follow your customer’s lead and be analytical or build rapport and establish a friendship-like conversation. This builds trust, which is essential to closing a sale.

The First 15 Seconds

The first 15 seconds of your sales call are critical. The first 15 seconds can make or break the sale. Have a good opening that is sincere and catches attention without becoming a claim or boast. Questions can work in this area. Make a third party reference or follow-up on a mail piece, fax, email, or ad. Your first line must be powerful. Use phrases like, “we help businesses, we offer, and we provide.” Explain how you can help, push hot buttons and have a sincere hook that adds value in the first 15 seconds of the call.

Get to the Point

Have a very clear objective and reason for your call. Telephone selling is a skill that requires simplicity and the ability to get to the bottom line fast. Selling on the phone is very direct and should hit to the heart of the matter very quickly. Time is money. Do not waste your time or the customer’s time.

Non-Verbal is Powerful on the Phone

People often overlook the importance of non-verbal skills in telephone selling. Who you are, your motives and intentions, will speak very loudly over the phone in your non-verbal skills. In some ways this is the case even more than in a face-to-face meeting where perceptions and appearance can be misleading or a distraction. Your focus should be on discovering the needs of your customers and working with them to determine how you can add value. Sell on the phone first and foremost because it better meets customer needs, not because you want to make money.

Keep Excellent Records and Be Organized

The volume of phone calls needed to be successful in tele-sales requires excellent organizational and time-management skills. Fortunately, contact management software such as ACT or Goldmine are excellent tools for tracking calls. Always return calls as soon as possible. This allows you to stand apart from the competition.

Send Literature Objection

The number one objection in telephone selling is the prospect asking you to send literature. Never send literature until you have qualified the prospect. Literature is almost always thrown out. Refer prospects to your web site, fax or email information. Direct mail should be coordinated with telemarketing campaigns and sales people should use these mailings as a reason for the call.

Proper Equipment

Headsets are essential to successful tele-sales work. Most people do not speak with a hand to their ear or their shoulder pushed up into their neck, so why should we speak to customers in that manner on the phone? Invest in a quality pair of headsets and the proper equipment to work in a relaxed and efficient environment.

Practice Your Phone Skills

Tape yourself, role-play and analyze your speaking voice on the telephone. Can you build trust and confidence that will lead to a sale? How well do you listen on the phone? As it is in all parts of selling, the more your practice the better your success.

Keep these ideas in mind as you dial for dollars by meeting customer needs and adding value on the telephone. Look for more telephone selling tips in the next issue of InBIZ.

Tom Young, MBA is president of Intuitive Websites, a sales training and marketing consulting firm helping companies increase revenues. He can be reached at 719-481-4040, or email at  tom@intuitivewebsites.com.