Recently, I read a report produced by the Executive Institute of Ireland (formerly the Sales Institute of Ireland), that stated, “70% of participating companies experienced an increase in headcount for their Inside Sales team and they predicted a growth for 2018”.
We may live in a time where a lot of our communication with customers is online; however this report proved to me and the Institute the importance of the telephone in business.
As a result, this prompted the presentation “Using the phone to generate more leads” at a “Sales Series” event in early January 2018 with the instutute, which I am happy to share with you today.
I began by looking at the reasons why salespeople shy away from using the phone. Some people think selling on the phone is old-fashioned compared to email. Some feel it is a waste of time, takes too long as it is difficult to get through to potential customers.
Interestingly, what customers often tell me is that they receive lots of irrelevant, unqualified calls. They say salespeople can be too pushy and talk at them. Other times, people will say the salesperson seems unprepared, doesn’t listen or get to the point.
It is disappointing to hear this feedback. Yet as a specialist in the area of telephone, these are the gaps I have identified over the years – many of which can be fixed:
- A lack of qualification – salespeople call the wrong people or have no name at all
- Having unrealistic expectations - wanting too much too soon
- Impatience & bad timing – calling at wrong times and not working out the numbers
- Pitching too soon – coming across as too pushy or even nervous
- A one sided perspective – not looking at the customers point of view
- Asking the wrong questions – asking inappropriate and closed questions
- Going straight in for the kill – again being too pushy without building interest
- Not getting real feedback – not asking enough questions or listening to the answers
- Giving up too soon – remembering it’s a numbers game
- Lack of training – people don’t have the skills to make effective calls
Technologies will develop and people may evolve, but fundamentally humans are social creatures and we still want to have one-to-one conversations. We need to accept the telephone is an important sales tool and it can help us if we use it properly.
The following are the key summary points we spoke about at the event. They can help us improve our techniques on the phone and ultimately generate better results.
- Before picking up the phone, spend time cultivating leads & know exactly who to call
- Be focused, be patient & be realistic with expectations
- Look at things from the customer’s perspective, so quit selling & help people buy
- Be yourself, believe in yourself & have the right attitude. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it
- Follow the keys steps for each sales call
- Get the customers attention by creating the “busy restaurant” syndrome…
- Ask the right questions & generate interest and be prepared to qualify & disqualify…
- Create desire by talking about what’s relevant with interesting recommendations
- It’s all about timing & never being afraid of being told “No”…in your call to action
- Be prepared to follow up
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