10 Tips for Telephone Success

The telephone is an often under-appreciated and much maligned piece of office equipment. Have you stopped to consider how much business you conduct over the telephone? These 10 tips will help you improve your telephone presence and presentations.

1. You are the “Manager of First Impressions” for your business. Whenever you pick up the telephone, put a smile on your face first. It will enhance your vocal quality and you will sound pleasant and relaxed.

2. Listen attentively to the person you are speaking with. Recall why your dog is such a good listener: listen actively and in the moment. Multi-tasking is the enemy of effective listening.

3. Let other people talk! Make sure your caller has completely finished speaking before responding. Remember: sometimes they aren’t done talking; they are just coming up for air.

4. Use open-ended questions to get people to speak more freely. You should always talk less than the person you have called. It makes others feel more comfortable, particularly if you are asking them to make a decision. The more they talk, the easier it is for them to “buy into” what you are proposing.

5. To create affinity with your callers, speed up or slow down your speaking voice to better match theirs. They won’t realize why they feel comfortable, they just will.

6. Use your words for best results. Keep in mind you can phrase anything positively, negatively or neutrally. Phrasing your words positively will help you get better results more easily.

7. Voice mail can be your friend. Avoid leaving voice mail messages but if you must, think of it as a 30 second commercial on a highly rated radio program. You have the opportunity to get your message into the “ears” of your most desired audience. Your message should reflect this.

8. Plan your telephone presentations in advance. Think out all the various scenarios you might be faced with and write it out. This is called pre-call planning.

9. Tape yourself for self-improvement. Listen to yourself carefully and decide what areas you want to improve.

10. Make an action plan. Focus on only one area at a time. When you feel comfortable, move to your next area and repeat.

We use the telephone as our primary form of personal communication. People who are good with this medium increase their opportunities for success.

How to Handle Telephone Sales Objections

You could be selling the industry rated best product or solution on the market today. You could have customers from all the major industries to brag about and documented savings, or time and risk reductions or whatever your product provides to show any potential customer. In your mind there is no reason a prospect wouldn’t be more than thrilled to hear how they too can benefit from all these amazing features! The reality of sales is that you are going to get objections and rejections on a daily basis. Sometimes we lose focus that we are not the only people calling on these prospective customers with the same type of story. If you are calling on information technology prospects this could prove to be even more difficult as they are a highly targeted group. The initial start to any sales process is the introduction. Many times before you can even be rejected after pitching your entire presentation is the objections you get from a prospect to even spend the time to hear it!

Cold calling, the process of calling up potential prospects that are not expecting a call, is one of many effective ways to approach a potential business prospect to consider a meeting with a sales representative to pitch their product. Warm calls are a little bit easier and usually consist of a follow up to a potential buyer based on an action they have taken. Good examples of “warm calls” when making calls to prospects include company sponsored webcasts they attended, an industry trade show where they stopped by the company booth, a piece of literature like an company sponsored white paper or educational document they may have downloaded, a visit to the website, or an active request via email or website for more product information. Each of these actions usually require contact information for a follow up which include a phone number, title and company name.

In both of those calling situations, you may get a very welcome opportunity to have a brief or extended conversation with the prospect as they expresses interest in scheduling a follow up meeting for an extended discussion or presentation. However, objections are a big and very common hurdle to obtaining an important sales generating meeting! Here are some common objections and ways to overcome them.

1. I’m not in the market or I’m not interested

Answer: This may be just a quick “I really want to get off the phone” without even taking a moment to process what you may be offering. You called this person because their company would be a potential customer and already assessed that there could be an opportunity to sell to them. If you have done your homework prior to picking up the phone, you could address this with a bigger picture for your product or service. For example “I appreciate that, “XXXX company within their industry who is a current client” saved over 400,000 dollars a year by making just a few minor changes to their process using XXX, can we set up a follow up call and I can show you exactly they we did that should your company be in the same situation down the road?”. Another approach is to get them talking more about themselves and their role within the company. For example “Oh I’m sorry I thought you were the correct person responsible for helping the company to increase overall sales, would you know who would be the right person for me to speak with?”. This works with many stalled conversations. In many cases they will confirm they are responsible for this area and ask them another pointed question about tools they currently use and their satisfaction with the percentage of increase in sales, lower cost, whatever your particular product has to offer. The alternative they say “well that really would be Jim in finance”, and continue to obtain their contact information. These can help you convert this objection to a follow up meeting.

2. We already have a solution in place

Answer: You may immediately want to say “Oh, OK thanks” and hang up. There are many components to any type of ‘solution’. This answer will assume you have already done your homework and know what the competing solutions would be to your product and service along with benefits you can offer above solutions which could be in place. Immediately put them at ease by acknowledging that have this area covered, and then ask “Do you mind if I ask what you are using?”. Many times the prospect will believe they are ‘off the hook’ with you and volunteer this information. That will open the door for you to respond with “Oh that’s a good solution, were you aware that XXX company was using that exact solution as well and we were able to show them “XXX benefit” (cost savings, increased productivity, more sales) when they opened up to the idea of switching? Would you have 30 minutes next Tuesday so we can show you how that was done?

3. Just email me something I’ll take a look at it

Answer: This is a very common answer for busy professionals. It is very possible they have every intention of “looking at it” when they have time but in reality many are just putting you off allowing you a small win to ’email them’ documents to get off the phone. In order to flush out some interest but just not enough time is to agree immediately to ’email them’. Then acknowledge that they are very busy professionals and instead of adding to their ‘inbox’ of materials, they could get a greater benefit by scheduling some time for an online presentation to really see if this could be of value to them or not. Many times they will agree as you are being respectful of their time. If they again say, I won’t know if I want to spend the time until I’ve see what your product is about, again agree to email them. Then you can come back with “If you have just 5-10 more seconds, would you have a web browser open?” And of course they will “Can you go to www yourcompanytestimonials dot com really quickly I can walk you through just a couple of things? It will only take a second and probably less time than having to review a lengthy email?”. Last resort of course you can email them but then ask them exactly when the best time is to follow up, and be specific on the best day, time of day and phone number.

There are of course many more objections that could come up and as you get them and are unable to overcome them at the time, try to brainstorm so you are ready next time and make it a goal to overcome it! Remember these key things about objections:

Things to DO:

Maintain a positive attitude and be enthusiastic

Remember that objections are a natural part of the sales process and shouldn’t be taken personally

Listen closely to an objection and ask questions

Acknowledge the objection and creatively ask good questions and be ready with documented value

Always be prepared to prove your position with testimonials, customer references, and documented success

Things to AVOID:

Do not knock the competition especially if they own it, be ready with values you provide that are unique

Do not say anything negative about your product, service or company

Do not tell the customer that they are wrong or in anyway get combative or argumentative

Do not lie to a customer, if you don’t know the answer, then say that and you will get back to them

Do not let an objection go by without an answer or one last attempt to convert them

These tips should help you convert more calls into meetings and more sales. Good luck and Good Selling!