A sales career can be challenging, but even more so if all of your sales activity is accomplished over the telephone! Here are a few tips to ensure your phone sales presence is strong and effective so that you can stay ahead of your revenue objective every month:
Use a good CRM tool. Make sure your company or your management team provides you with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that enables you to schedule your calls, follow up on scheduled calls, has a good calendar, a task and list manager, an “alarm” system for important calls, etc. This will be critical to your ability to keep up with your top customers, as well as your newer customers while building your pipeline. Make sure you take excellent notes so that with follow up calls or return calls, you have a reminder of your last conversation.
Schedule your calls one week out. Effective planning is critical to having quality phone time. Scheduling your calls one week out will ensure you constantly have a pipeline of calls to make, and if you sort them by prospect, cold call, follow up, close, etc, you will also be reminded of the nature of the call as you pull up the next company in your list to call.
Develop Great Rapport in 3 seconds. Over the phone, you have only 3 seconds to establish great rapport. The reason for this is simply that you will not have the ability to use body language to convey your message, so you need to have a bright, cheery personality when you call and talk to someone on the phone. It’s critical that you don’t come across too salesy or as if you are reading from a script-it’s much more important that you use your personality to your biggest advantage so you can sell your products and services. Getting past the 3 second hurdle is critical to effective and productive phone selling.
Be cognizant of your client’s time. When you call someone, you are interrupting their day. Make sure that you let your client ( or prospective client) know that you are aware of that, and ask if this is a good time to talk for a few minutes. If they say no, take that opportunity to schedule time with that client at a later time. This will ensure you have more undivided attention from your client. Also, if you say your phone appointment will only take 15 minutes, do not go over the 15 minutes allotted for the call. This will help you gain respect from your client, and will enable you to develop stronger relationships than you will if you go over the time allotted. Tip: If you get to the 15 minute point and you still have information to share, let the client know you’ve reached the time limit, and ask them if they would like you to continue, or if they would like to reschedule for another time. If you are doing a great job, the client will allow you to continue right then, and you might even find yourself with a sale that day!
Follow up, follow up, follow up. If you say you will follow up, do it. Make sure you follow up on the day and time you say you will. Otherwise, you will lose credibility in the eyes of your client, and will be unable to regain that, especially over the phone.
Be organized. The key to phone selling is staying organized. Have all your selling sheets and product tips in front of you, either in a binder or on your computer. This will help you overcome objections with ease, and will make your clients believe you are ready with answers to any question they have. Once you are finished with a call or a task, move on to the next one-don’t try to have several tasks going at once, or you will be less productive in what you are doing.
Be personable. Remember to be thankful, courteous, respectful, and most of all, to be yourself. One who is conversational in nature will break down the wary barriers of phone-overloaded clients.
Ask solid, open-ended questions. Asking open ended questions will help you move the sale along more rapidly than asking yes/no questions. If the client knows you really care about their business-which will be expressed through open ended questions, they will be more likely to answer your questions and buy from you.
Use good equipment. Make sure your computer, Internet speed, and phone systems are all in good working order and are the latest technology (if possible). This is critical to ensuring quality service to your clients.
Wear a headset. To alleviate neck, shoulder, and back problems, wear a headset. This will also enable you to take notes while you talk, look for information, and even stand and stretch while on the phone. A headset is critical to a more organized, more successful phone sales executive.
Get up and move every hour. In order to avoid burn out and to keep yourself motivated and focused, get up and move every hour. Even if it is just for 5 minutes, that 5 minutes will help the oxygen to flow back to your brain, will enable you to disengage for a few moments, and will give you the ability to concentrate more effectively when you return to the phone.
Eliminate distractions. If you are in a cubicle, make sure your back is to the opening. This will help you avoid seeing people walk past your cube, and will keep you focused on the task at hand. Also, do not have music playing while on the phone. It will distract you and likely the others around you, not to mention potentially diminishing your credibility in the eyes of your client.
Have a purpose for your call. When you call clients, again remember that they are not expecting your call. Much as you would if you called on them in person, let them know from the beginning the purpose of your call. This will set the expectation from the beginning, and will help you better prepare them to have a business conversation. Also remember that you are calling about business-so while you may want to involve the client in chit-chat for a few moments at the beginning, waste little to no time getting to the purpose of your call. This will build tremendous credibility in the eyes of your client if they believe you are able to help them quickly and efficiently.
End your call with follow up reasons. At the end of each call, whether you have sold something or not, make sure you have established a reason for a follow up call, and schedule that as a phone appointment if at all possible. Remember that you are there to conduct business, and your time with them is critical to your success. Therefore, scheduling your next appointment in advance will help you be more productive on the call, will ensure you have their undivided attention, and will result in more closed sales and longer lasting client relationships.