This will be the first in a series of Modern Techniques. We will also focus on in-person selling, emails, and social media sales very soon.
If you’ve ever read an aggressive sales book or visited the average, flashy, “boost your sales NOW” website, you’ll have read the words the telephone is dead more times than you can count. Most of these ‘gurus’ will have bandied on and on, extolling the virtues of an email system, a social media system, or a way to locate potential clients and blanket them with so much marketing that they have no choice but to buy your product. “No one answers their phone,” they say. In fact, according to them, no one even has a phone.
Yet, despite this, more people than ever have a cellphone on their person throughout nearly all of their day (96% according to PEW research). You’re likely reading this very post from a mobile right now. The fact is, the telephone is the number-one most effective way to get in front of your client and make a real connection with them. Today, we’ll chat about the following key concepts:
- What makes telephone selling so crucial
- How you can make your call effective – even if it doesn’t go well
- Why the telephone sets the best modern salespeople apart and drives true growth
1. What makes telephone selling so crucial
I’m just going to come out and say it – the phone should be your best friend in sales. So many people are afraid of calling not only cold leads, but warm leads and even current clients. Some people are absolutely mortified at the prospect that they may have to – gasp! – call someone out of the blue. Why is that? Its simple – we have been wired and conditioned to not want to interrupt or insert ourselves into someones day. At this moment, most people probably wouldn’t even dream about calling their mother without sending her a text message first to ask if now is a good time.
Why You Must Disrupt
Wouldn’t it be nice if every single prospect you sent that perfect, beautiful, well thought out email to just did their part and replied to it? The fact is, most of the time, cold emails go directly into the junk folder or are simply deleted before they are even skimmed. Even warm emails get deleted because our prospects and clients are simply too busy for us. I know what you’re thinking – “how can I get my perfect, amazing product or service to my customer if they don’t even have time to read my email?”
The answer is – you need to bring it to them directly by breaking the ice and calling.
Disrupting a client sounds awful. It sounds like you’re barging in on them, smashing down the door, and ruining their day. 99% of the time, you’re not – but just the thought that you might be is repellent to your mind and you don’t want to make that call. We’ll walk through a way to get over that in part 3 of this article.
In our human minds, we dread the thought of being rebuffed and ignored and hurt and to be annoying. It’s in our biology. We dream of angry people screaming and shouting at us on the other end of the phone line. In reality, the vast majority of people are kind, affable, and willing to listen – even if only for a moment.
This moment is what is so crucial about telephone sales. You have the direct ear of a person who you have narrowed down as a potential hot prospect (We will discuss getting past gatekeepers and locating the people you need to talk to in an upcoming article). Even if you don’t get the chance to pitch your wares, you have the opportunity to hear their voice and envision who they are as a person – are they crusty, kind? Young, old? Perhaps male when you assumed female? All of this information is so key, not only in your initial call, but for all interactions beyond this first call.
2. How you can make your call effective – even if it doesn’t go well
The telephone call is so important that I will most certainly need to produce several articles on etiquette alone just to break down every facet of it. What you need to know to start calling today are only a few simple things:
Be kind, but be direct – do not be supplicating
This is a massive problem new salespeople have. The second they hear a “hello?” on the other end of the line, they immediately turn on their “sales voice” and suddenly sound like they’re walking on a rainbow in the sunshine and the world is perfect – “can I have a moment of your time, ma’am?”
Invariably, the answer will be “I’m so busy,” “not now, “not interested,” or “thanks – but no thanks.” Perhaps you’ll get a prospect who pities you and will chat for a bit, but immediately you’ve set the tone that you are asking something of them and are essentially begging to have it. This is not the position you want to be in.
When you begin your call, you need to use a firm and collegial tone – almost as though you work with the person you are calling, as if you were a part of their organization. You aren’t a beggar at the door – you are their peer. Combining this tone with concise, clear identification of yourself and why you’re calling, will ensure the person on the other side of the line respects what you’re calling for – even if they aren’t interested in the end (which we will discuss next).
Close to the next step – be prepared for it to work
This is a problem so many salespeople don’t even dream about encountering. They finally work up the courage to make their call. Then the prospect answers. Our salesperson manages an effective tone of voice and advises who they are and why they’re calling and – to their own surprise – the prospect says YES. “Go on. Please. More.”
This is where our salesperson falls apart. They’ve focused too much on memorizing who their client is and what they’re supposed to say at the start, and have now forgotten all the magnificent features of their product or service. Do not forget the reason for your call – it’s not to avoid being rebuffed – its to sell your product.
Know your stuff – because the customer can tell if you don’t.
Be prepared for it to backfire – but get something else out of the call!
No matter how perfect your etiquette or how meticulously selected your prospect is, more often than not, they will not be the person you need to talk to to make a deal right now. Maybe they’ve just bought from a competitor, or perhaps they aren’t authorized to make a decision.
This is where you can put your social skills to the test – use your newfound relationship with this person to a) find out who you should really be speaking to, or b) refer you to someone they know who is also in the market. Chances are, if they are a prospect for you, they will know other people who are too.
Even if you don’t come away with anything direct from the call, you can still gather info on their buying window, organizational structure, and establish a contact to namedrop or revisit in the future.
3. Why the telephone sets the best modern salespeople apart and drives true growth
So let’s say all of those internet-marketing-gurus and email list Gods are correct. The telephone is dead, no one calls anymore, it’s all over. You might as well be mailing a letter.
This is how you will differentiate yourself from your competition.
Chances are, they are afraid of the phone too! Your prospect is likely tired of getting boring, bland emails and impersonal web ads that mean nothing to him or her. They probably don’t even get a “how are you?” call from their current provider. They are craving something different, desiring a personal connection when they decide to spend their hard-earned dollars.
Set yourself apart with your clients by reaching them on a personal level. Go the extra mile to call them even after the sale is made. This is how real relationships are built.
As a bonus – use the telephone to set yourself apart from competition within your office or perhaps rival companies offering a similar product. You will notice the bump in your numbers if you use the telephone consistently – I promise.
PS. I will be breaking down specifically how to complete a PERFECT CALL in a future post coming very, very soon.