Telesales personnel are a growing number across the world in an ever-widening range of fields from insurance, double-glazing and healthcare, to advertising, building, manufacturing, and national and regional newspapers. And the list becomes more and more extensive. Even charities now employ telesales personnel to increase donations.
Across the UK and internationally, many companies exist solely to contact people via the telephone, with contracts from a number of businesses. At a conservative estimate, there are many tens of thousands of full and part-time personnel engaged in the Telesales industry in the UK alone. Each of these wants to earn good commission, (because the basic wage is generally low). Turnover of personnel is high because of ‘burn out’ due to insufficient training.
o As fuel costs increase, on-the-road sales personnel become fewer. Telephone costs, however, are coming down in cost regularly, with more options available from the independent telephone companies.
o Postage costs remain prohibitive for the many, and e-commerce does not.
allow for person-to-person contact. Telephone contact is the viable option.
o Every individual Telephone sales person wants to earn more money.
o Managers and Telesales personnel alike want to highlight the skills and techniques of effective telesales management.
So what are the basics of effective telesales and how do you get them applied in your telesales department?
Very early on in the telephone conversation, your personnel will have created one of two effects: Interest or resistance. And it’s one or the other. Most callers can create a resistance almost immediately, bringing an early close to the telephone call and a sense of loss to the caller. Listen. Nobody is sitting in their office just waiting for your telesales department to call. Most often, the person you’re calling is busy, and has little time to speak on the telephone. How often are you ready and available to answer the telephone – nothing else happening, sitting comfortably and nothing else to do? The chances are that if those circumstances fit you too often, your P45 won’t be too long coming also.
Those first moments of telephone communication are vital and all-important. Here’s a good procedure for telesales personnel:
o Introduce themselves and their organisation.
o Make a statement that stimulates interest and creates a curiosity, about some benefit the prospective client could gain from the telephone call.
o Ask appropriate questions in order to get the other person involved in a conversation. Then listen and respond with more questions – appropriate ones. Tell them that in order to deliver the potential benefit, you need to get information. Here are examples; “My name is Roger Aspen, with Apex marketing. We specialise in generating business for our clients at the same time as lowering their marketing costs. I’ve got a few ideas I’d like to discuss to see if this would be of any value to you and your company”. Or: “This is Sophie Grierson with Cleanways UK. I’m calling because we may be able to cut your expenses for the exact same cleaning items you’re now buying. To determine this, I’d like to find out what you’re using for… “
Get your telesales personnel to put themselves in the position of the person hearing it, and ask: “would you want to hear more if you were the buyer?” “Would you set aside whatever you were doing and participate in the call? If not, they need to work out a new approach along the same lines. The opening line must say as much as possible, with as few words as possible – that’s an interesting exercise in itself. By appealing to the prospective clients’ desire to gain, or his fear of losing something, will you cause them to spend productive time with you, and eventually buy from you.
Others form an image of the way we are by our telephone manner. Try it for yourself. The next time you receive a telephone call from someone you don’t know, grab a piece of paper and a pen, and note down the positive and negative images of the other person which form in your mind as the conversation progresses. How does this affect any decisions you have to make about this person or their company? Image is all-important. Tone of voice, manner of speaking, the words we choose, all instantly position us in the recipients’ mind and cause judgements to be made of which we are unaware. Listen to yourself on the telephone. How do you rate telephone-image-wise? Have your telesales personnel do this as an exercise. It is very revealing! Anyone who works with words and voice, actors, speakers, musicians, – all listen to how they sound, because they know it is so vital.
Make time to review
Many telesales personnel make one call after another, as if there is a record to be broken. Many telesales and telemarketing companies give their personnel targets to achieve (100 calls an hour in some cases). To me, these companies have given up on true professional telesales. It has become ‘just a numbers game’ to them, so possibly this does not apply to them…. My advice here about reviewing your last call is intended for the telesales manager and caller who wants to get it as right as he or she can. If you were unsuccessful in your last call, if the potential client put the telephone down on you without ‘giving you a chance’, ask yourself – Why? What on earth did I do wrong there? Review the call – What did I like about this call? What would I have done differently on this call? Don’t think your personnel haven’t the time to do this on every call. You can’t afford not to.
Take the time to know something about the company you’re calling, and where your product or service would fit in with the likely needs and wants of that company. Prepare in advance the questions you will need to get answered in order to further qualify your potential customer.
Success on the ‘phone does not mean dominating the conversation. Listening experts say that most of us do not listen most of the time. Often, this is because we are so busy thinking about what WE are going to say next. Work on listening skills. This is very easy, and goes like this: Close mouth. Listen. Keep mouth closed. Keep listening.
The Receptionist is there to receive people and telephone calls. That’s what she is paid for. Acknowledge this to yourself. Make friends with them. Don’t be in such a mad rush to get to the ‘main man’ that you intimidate them or ‘push their buttons’ into stopping you dead. To get to your buyers, all you need to do is help Receptionists to do their job, which is to protect their boss’s time from wasteful callers. “We’re happy with who we’re buying from.” Says the Receptionist. “Well, I have some ideas that have helped other people in your industry cut down on their advertising expenses while generating more sales. I’d like to ask Mr./Mrs. Roberts a few questions to see if this could apply here also…”. Make friends with the Receptionist. She can often be of great assistance, so get her on your side. She knows what you want, but remember, you’re not paying her wages….
“Send me literature” can be a legitimate sign of interest. Often, it is not. Literature will never do your companies selling for you, most often it will never be read, even when it has been requested. Good quality literature will only ever be a compliment to the sales skills of your personnel. So sending literature is often just another way of deferring hearing ‘no’ from the prospective client. Have your people become more willing to hear the word ‘no’ and cut your overheads even more by not wasting literature
Instead of having a list of features and benefits you’re intent on presenting, take all your benefits and write them down the side of a piece of paper. Then draw two columns down the page to the right of the words. Label the first column “Needs Filled/ problems Solved.” Then for each benefit write out what need or problem the corresponding benefit satisfies. Label the right-hand column “Questions to Ask.” For each need or problem write a question that would determine whether that situation existed. Use these questions during your call. Make sure you don’t present what you “think” is a benefit until you’ve confirmed it by asking the corresponding questions. Use questions. Find out.
Objections – legitimate or illegitimate?
Many objections are created by the Salesperson not qualifying well enough in the first place. An objection is usually defined as ‘the customer’s reason for not buying’. Many times, the customer has just not been qualified as a correct prospect for this particular product or service. Poor qualification of prospects will always equal a lot of objections and lots of failed sales. When a potential client does come up with objections, they may not be real to your telesales people, but to that potential client, they are very real. Contrary to many books and sales training courses, objections to buying your product are not always surmountable. It may be an inappropriate product or service; the client may genuinely not be in a position to purchase if he has a limited budget. Most of all, he may not really want your product or service. Why not? The best thing to do with genuine objections is to talk them through with the potential customer. If the product or service is genuinely not for that person at this time, it will become glaringly obvious. If you continue to advise your sales people that ‘all objections can be overcome’ then sooner or later, they will become disaffected from you and the company. Why? Because many objections are legitimate objections that place the potential client out of reach of your product or service for the time being. Recognise it.
Ask for the order
‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’. It’s an old saying, but so often true, particularly in business. Your salespeople want an order? Ask for it. They want a definite date on which to call again? Ask for it. Want to know exactly who will be making the decision? Ask. Find out. When will this person be available? Ask the question. Don’t waffle, get the information you need, get the order if that’s what the call is about. You can’t have the order? Well, when can we have an order? May we telephone you on that date? What then, would be a good time? Ask the question and get the answer.
Professionalism in sales is for all salespeople, not just the Field Salesman. It is brought about by really caring about doing it right, finding out why, when things don’t work, and wanting to sell appropriate products or services to people and companies who really want or need them. This is achievable over the telephone. Telesales can be as professional as the rest, nurture it!