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The Basics Of Telephone Marketing
By Michael Stahl   Printer Friendly Version

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 the phone.

Basic things to remember with the telephone:

  • Always be polite and genuine
  • 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 reading it.

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 the prospect.

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!)


  • 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.

For example:

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 music?"

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!

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