Selling on the Telephone: Part 2

By: Thomas Young

As reviewed in part one, telephone selling is in a boom. It is very common to find sales and marketing managers growing their telephone sales team. Telephone selling has proven to be a very effective sales channel, if used properly. Here are a few more tips on becoming successful at telephone sales.

How to Deal with Gatekeepers

It is important to remember what screeners are paid to do. Basically, they have two functions, to protect their managers’ time and to help people. When talking with gatekeepers remember these two key areas. Build credibility and sound authoritative with gatekeepers. Sound like a CEO, not a sales rep. Express the benefits you will bring their boss. Convert the screener into an advocate for you because of the value you will bring to their company. This will make the screener look good!

Be honest with screeners and ask them for help. Many will be happy to offer advice on how to get through, and help you identify the decision-maker. Ask a few brief questions; they have more calls to answer. Finally, if a difficult screener will not work with you, call before or after hours. Oftentimes, the decision-maker will pick up the phone when the screener has left for the day.

Dealing with Voice Mail

Voice mail is the best, and the worst, thing to happen to sales people in the last 20 years. It is a fact of life in selling and must become a positive tool in your sales efforts. Remember, trust is low in your first few contacts with customers. Prepare a voice mail presentation that clearly communicates how you can add value. Be professional, confident and honest. Do not use dishonest tactics such as bait and switch to lure people into returning your call. Most people will not return voice mail messages, unless there is value. Always leave a message that adds value. Do not call too often; once per week maximum.

Do not wait for people to call you back. You should take the initiative and call them. A recent survey found that we receive over 200 communications everyday in the workplace. Your voice mail message is one of 200 communications for the day! Your call must add value. Let the client know you will be calling again in your message. Mention referrals or people that you may have in common.

Keep accurate records and track how many calls are returned. Modify your scripts to maximize your returned calls. If voice mail does not work, try other options. Never give up because voice mail messages are not returned.

Prepare a Script

You must have a script to effectively sell on the phone. The script is not read word-for-word; it is presented in a manner that consistently gets your message across. Do not wing it. Important items will be forgotten. Make a note of what works and use it again. Modify the script as you go. Focus on the direct value-added benefit of what you are selling.

Scripts are very important in the early stages of selling a new product or service. Over time, the information will flow more easily and the “script” will be memorized. Match your presentation to the mood and feel of the customer. Include in your script probing questions, trial closes and responses to objections.

Follow-up and Persistence are Key

Do not stop calling back until you have a decision or people ask you not to call again. Telephone selling is a numbers game. The more calls you make the closer you are to the next sale. Prospecting is often best performed over the phone, and in today’s competitive environment there are times when it is necessary to make 100+ calls a day. If customers tell you this is a bad time, ask when it would be a good time and call back at that time. Ask for referrals from buyers and those that turn you down and do not take rejections personally.

How to Handle Tele-Sales Burnout

If you feel burnout coming, take a break. Pace yourself. Make calls in short spurts of 45 minutes to an hour. If a break doesn’t work, then search within yourself, because professional selling may not be for you. In fact, telephone selling is not for everyone, however successful sales people, and business people for that matter, must be able to communicate effectively and sell their ideas or products over the phone.

There is much more to telephone selling. These are a few of the critical fundamentals. Keep on dialing, that next call could be the sale that makes your year!

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  [email protected].