According to Smart Calling author and Business By Phone Inc. founder, Art Sobczak, the key to selling on the phone is “relevant prospect intelligence, plugged into planned, practiced, persuasive and proven messaging, repeated persistently, with a positive attitude = sales results.”
Sounds easy, no? The reality is that even the act of lifting the receiver and punching out your lead’s number (or letting the automatic dialer do it for you) can be nerve-racking. So, let’s start by breaking it down, step by step.
Here’s our quick guide to competitive selling on the phone.
Competitive Selling Tip 1: Don’t Be Afraid of Rejection
One of the first things to do when you want to be good at selling on the phone is to lose your fear. Yes, you will encounter a lot of rejections. You will be eating nos for breakfast. It’s all part of being a salesperson.
Remember that sales is a numbers game. You need a number of nos for each yes. So, pick up that phone and don’t be afraid of those nos.
It’s nothing personal. To your call recipients, you’re just a distant voice on the other end of the line. However they respond to your call, it won’t be about you, personally. So, don’t let it affect you.
Competitive Selling Tip 2: Approach Each Call With Enthusiasm
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Enthusiasm is contagious – even when it’s over the phone. So, approach each call with enthusiasm. Be excited with the prospect of making a new connection. While this connection can be as short as a few seconds or the start of a new business relationship, it’s going to be worth it.
Remember that you are reaching out to your target market, someone who can benefit from the product you’re offering. Be confident and believe in yourself.
Competitive Selling Tip 3: Qualify Your Leads
Doing actual selling is the best use of a salesperson’s time. In the typical sales team setting however, you have a lot on your plate. You need to do research, take after-call notes, and input client updates, among other tasks.
Lead qualification should already be part of your sales process. So, make sure your qualification process considers the important factors. When you do get on the phone, your efforts should go into something worthwhile. Prioritize your calls, according to how your leads are ranked. Invest more time on leads who are more likely to buy from you.
Competitive Selling Tip 4: Plan Your Call
Plan your calls in response to what’s immediately on your prospect’s mind: why are you calling?
Typically, you have three objectives in calling:
- To introduce yourself.
- To talk about your product.
- To make a sale.
Don’t try to overachieve and do everything all at once. Remember that your contact is in the middle of work too. So, avoid steering away from your objective. Use the time to say your piece and then make another appointment for the next step.
Not only is this considerate of your lead’s time. You also display your professionalism.
Practice this before making calls. Draft your purpose, and a few expected questions and answers. Practice the call on your own. Visualize how it will play out, and how your leads are likely to respond.
Competitive Selling Tip 5: Mind Your Voice
Like it or not, your voice reveals a lot about your experience as a salesperson. A newbie who is still dealing with nerves will likely speak in a high pitched nervous voice. His pace will be faster than usual. His voice will convey uncertainty and the lack of confidence.
This is not how you want to be perceived so practice before you call. Lower your voice by visualizing yourself as an equal to the person you’re calling. This lends you some confidence, even when you’re speaking to a CEO or President. Speak slowly and deliberately. If you can, follow the talking pace of your prospect. Smile as you say your piece. Smiling calms the nerves. It can also be “heard” across the phone lines, and encourages the listener to smile back. Your listener will find it harder to say no when smiling.
Competitive Selling Tip 6: Talk With Your Body
A confident voice is not just a product of your lungs and vocal cords. It is the output of your whole body.
Your posture and your body’s movement affect how your voice comes out. For instance, when you’re slumped against the desk, your lungs don’t fill up with air properly. This affects the tone of your voice. Or, if you also use hand gestures in explaining, your voice is affected and your audience senses your enthusiasm.
So, sit up straight and pay attention to the task at hand. Be “present” when selling on the phone.
Competitive Selling Tip 7: Perfect and Practice Your Script But Don’t Read It
One of the biggest mistake that a newbie salesperson can do is read off the script and be obvious about it. A typical person will not respond to a robotic spiel, riddled with clichés. That is unprofessional – to say the least.
Your script is there as a guide only. In the end, your goal is to have a conversation with your prospect, wherein you are direct about your objective and “real.”
So, when you draft your script, draft it only as a guide. Take note of typically asked questions and prepare your responses. Be clear about your objective with each script you draft.
Competitive Selling Tip 8: Channel The Characteristics of An Influential Salesperson
When you’ve only got a few seconds to get your listener interested in what you’re saying, it is best to channel the characteristics of an influential caller. This is the type of caller who can make his listener pay attention. It is someone who can stoke up your interest with just a few words.
How do you become this person?
- Be friendly.
- Speak accurately and succinctly.
Competitive Selling Tip 9: Listen
Listening is not just your way of getting to know your market. It is also a way to convey interest and respect.
So, make sure your sales calls are two-way streets, wherein you also take the time to listen. Communicate that you want to get to know your prospect by asking questions and listening to their responses. This means keeping yourself from interrupting and minimizing any background noise. It also helps to respond with a “yes” or a “uhuh” whenever they make a statement.
Competitive Selling Tip 10: Dress For Success
Again, remember the famous Zig Ziglar quote: “You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”
Clothes that look and feel good lend confidence. You feel good about yourself. You are confident about how others perceive you. So, while selling on the phone means your audience doesn’t really get to see you, they will feel you. Your voice will reflect that you feel good about yourself – and this is always reassuring.
Competitive Selling Tip 11: Mind Your Timing
From love to career moves to selling on the phone, timing matters. You may have the most awesome product in the planet. But, with bad timing, you audience will not want to hear about it.
So, time your calls. According to a HubSpot marketing study, the best times to call are from 8 to 10 in the morning and 4 to 5 in the afternoon on Thursdays. The worst times to call are from 11 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon on Tuesdays.
Competitive Selling Tip 12: Remain Positive
This is not just a note to yourself to keep trying. Be positive and remain positive as you deal with people on the phone, regardless of how they respond to you.
Use positive words. An ‘I can’ always sounds better than an ‘I can’t.’ Use your audience’s name. This conveys your interest in their unique situation and requirements. Take ownership of issues that might arise. Listen, explain your side but never make excuses. And, always follow up.
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