If you are in any kind of
direct sales and customer contact is vital to the success of your business,
you will have to do "phone work" whether you like it or not. Speaking on the
telephone is an art. An integral part of the sales process involves booking
the appointment, getting the customer to visit your business or setting up some
kind of meeting with the prospect - this involves selling the interview over
Basic things to remember
with the telephone:
- Always be polite and
- Don't sound scripted
- Be natural
- Use person's name but
do not overdo it, otherwise you do not seem sincere.
It is quite funny when a
telemarketer calls a prospect and says their name about 15 times in the course
of a twenty-five second spiel. You can almost see the spot in the script that
says, "Prospect's name here". It is so forced and superficial. First of all,
if you are using some kind of script, get comfortable enough with it to where
you don't have to read it or at least to where you don't sound like you are
Then you can use the person's
name but use it within the bounds of logical reason - not just to fill space.
If someone is responding to your marketing efforts, you already have "friendly
entry" with them. Use this to ask questions about them and get them talking
in terms of their own interests. When you get to the point of closing them for
a face-to-face meeting, ask them what time would be best for them to meet on
the day that they have chosen. Then use the hold button.
It creates an air of importance
because people attach value to something they have to wait for. People expect
to wait. If you do not make a person wait for a short period of time when booking
an appointment, the perceived value of your product or service is decreased.
It is an unconscious reaction.
Think of how you would feel
if you went into a Doctor's office and they met you at the door with a huge
smile on their face and said, "Come right in I've been expecting you". Aside
from being shocked out of your mind, you would be a little unnerved at not having
to wait, at least for a short period of time, for someone you perceive to have
the utmost credibility and professional value. However, there is a fine line
between creating value and offending a person. Never let a person on hold for
more than 12 or 13 seconds (most especially if you do not have an on-hold marketing
message) or you can risk losing them. When you return to your prospect, always
use the "which quote" when closing for the interview. People generally don't
like to have to think so if you give them an alternate of choice, they come
to a decision much easier. Example: Mr. Smith I have appointments open at 1:15
p.m. or at 9:15 a.m., which would be more convenient for you? Call to confirm
the appointment either the night before or the day of the meeting to remind
While you should never speak
to an answering machine when trying to book an interview, it is acceptable to
leave a message reminding the prospect of your scheduled appointment.
This can actually be a plus
because it does not give the prospect any more chances to ask questions or object
before the interview. A simple call to confirm will keep your show rate high.
(Always be sure to write down directions before you hang up!)
CLOSING ON THE PHONE:
- Always control the conversation
with continued reflexive questioning to move toward the close no matter what
their response. Reflexive questions end or begin with phrases like "Aren't
you, Isn't it, Don't you, Wouldn't you.etc. The idea is to get "little yeses"
in order to continue moving forward.
- Be aggressive with the
close but not overbearing. There is a fine line between being an efficient
closer and an offensive antagonist.
- Use the "Porcupine Close"
when asked a question. By answering a question with a question you maintain
control of the conversation. Being able to answer a question with a question
can be quite an art form but very necessary to find out where your prospect
is in the sales process.
The owner of a very successful
DJ company tells a story about when he first started in the business. He was
so eager to please that he overlooked the importance of finding out what the
customer really wanted. A woman called his office asking about his services
for her wedding reception which was going to be enormous with lots of potential
for spin off referral business.
She said, "Do you play country
music?" Not waiting to find out about why she asked or turning the conversation
around with a question of his own he said, "Oh absolutely! We have country music
from all decades. We have a whole variety of classic and contemporary country
music." The woman said, "Well that's too bad. I hate country music."
He lost the sale without
ever even getting into the benefits of his service! Here's how the sale could
have been saved with a porcupine question:
Prospect: "Do you play country
Business owner: "Do you
like country music?"
Prospect: "No I hate it."
Business owner: "Well isn't
it great that we don't focus on country music?"
- Allow yourself a couple
minutes to relax and focus after each appointment booking before moving on
to more calls.
- When you are tired of
calling and it seems like you just cannot do one more, make at least five
more calls. Keep your energy up though!