Today, anyone who owns a business can pick up the phone to introduce themselves and boost sales.
Yet, many newbie businesspeople are either terrified of making that first call to a new lead, or are stuck in a rut repeatedly calling unresponsive clients.
If you’ve ever found yourself in one of these situations, it’s time for you to assess how your teams use the telephone and how calling fits into your overall sales and marketing strategy.
Instead of falling to the trap of mindlessly contacting purchased leads who may get more and more annoyed with each call, take a step back to analyze how you can improve your communication skills, amp up your ability to persuade and maximize telemarketing to open up new opportunities and increase sales.
Seen as a “necessary evil” by many sales and marketing professionals, prospecting remains as the most challenging (and sometimes most terrifying) aspect of attempting to increase sales for a new business trying to make its name in a highly competitive environment.
It becomes even more challenging when done via the telephone–when you are unable to use body language or visual guides to persuade your lead. So, how exactly do you prospect without scaring all of your leads away?
- Develop a persuasive telephone voice.
Effective telemarketers take time to hone their “phone voice”, which is a specific tone of voice used when talking to leads or clients.
Consider factors such as breath control (sit up straight to give more power to your voice and make it easier for the customer to hear you clearly), tone (avoid sounding angry, upset or overexcited) and articulation (concentrate on enunciating your words clearly, and use the appropriate accent to use for a specific call) in improving your phone voice.
An effective phone voice should be expressive, energetic and engaging.
- Get to know the lead before calling.
Do your homework and conduct a background check of your leads before calling. This can be as simple as checking their social media profiles or company websites, or as thorough as securing a referral from a mutual friend or business connection.
This will help you personalize your call and offer customized services that directly cater to the specific needs of your lead. An established personal connection will also make it easier for your lead to call you back or respond to your offer.
- Develop a winning script, but don’t be afraid to tweak it.
Humans like organization. Our minds are programmed to follow lists and step-by-step processes. Make sure that you are able to mention all of the goods and services offered by your company in an engaging manner by taking the time to develop a good script.
Preparing a script will also help boost your confidence and make it easier for you to persuade your lead. However, don’t hesitate to tweak your script, or to put a personal touch depending on the needs of each customer.
Conquer your fear of cold-calling
Many marketing executives say that the era of cold-calling is over and inbound marketing is the way to go. Despite the flak, there are still some advantages to using this tried-and-tested method of outbound marketing, in the sense that this approach may be more effective for certain businesses, such as start-ups who may have trouble introducing themselves in an extremely competitive industry.
Below are some tips to revamp your traditional cold-calling techniques and transform it to an exciting activity of getting to know new clients.
- Master the art of active listening.
Active listening means that you are giving your new prospect time to process your offer and respond accordingly, instead of you rushing through your script to finish the call. You can only listen actively if you clear your mind (and even your actual physical space) of clutter.
Focus on what your prospect is saying so that you can adapt your responses and engage the customer in actual conversation. Learn to balance your enthusiasm to talk about your business with enough control to pause and really listen to what your prospect has to say.
- Be nice.
Nobody really likes talking to cold-callers, and more often than not, your calls will be handled by assistants and secretaries who will promptly forget your call as soon as you hang up. Don’t let this bother you. Strike up friendly conversation with the assistants; be nice and courteous while introducing your brand and the services you offer.
As you try to build rapport with them, make it a point to inquire about the perfect time to call back. Before you know it, you’ll be getting past the gatekeepers and pitching your business to the big boss.
- Be persistent.
It can be disheartening to perform cold calls and handle rejection on a regular basis, but keep in mind that cold-calling gets your company noticed among potential customers who may not have been aware of your company but may need your services soon enough.
Persistent contact often makes the difference between rejection and success in sales—even Uber, one of the fastest growing ride-sharing apps today, jumpstarted their business by persistent cold-calling!
- Research is key.
Investigating the background of the company that you are about to call is even more important when you’re cold-calling. This will help you develop an individualized approach that will provide insights that are actually of value to your clients.
- Maximize your connections.
When cold-calling, mention all partnerships established with other companies or services you’ve offered to past clients. These connections with another industry player will make you more credible to new leads and make it easier for them to trust you with their business.
Inbound marketing as an inroad to success
Unlike outbound marketing techniques like cold-calling or email blasting, inbound marketing focuses on developing content that is valuable and useful to prospective clients—content that will draw them in and encourage them to patronize your business.
But just like any other marketing technique, inbound marketing via the phone requires careful planning to ensure success. Consider the following tips from experts on how to execute a killer inbound marketing campaign over the phone.
- Create a sense of urgency.
Get to know your prospects, familiarize yourself with their vision and targets. Use this information to connect with your prospective clients and present your services as an important addition that will help them achieve their targets now.
For example, you might say “I’m aware that your company wants to expand to the Asia-Pacific region. Our training services can provide customized culture and language courses to your staff and help you achieve this goal as soon as possible.”
- Develop a specialized team of callers.
Aaron Ross, CEO of Predictable Revenue, Inc. points out the need to ensure a specialized sales team, with team members engaged in either inbound or outbound calls only. This will help callers become specialized experts in making inbound calls and will promote productivity.
- Be honest.
“Be upfront with the prospect about your role and what your part in the sales process will be,” says Sean Alpert, Director of Product Marketing at SalesForce. Be transparent about the entire sales process and communicate all of your expectations clearly. You honesty will help build rapport with your clients and will inspire them to ask more questions, thus helping you clinch the sale.
- Add a personal touch.
Even more so than outbound marketing, the success of inbound calls rely on communicating individualized messages that are tailor-made to respond to the needs of your prospective clients. Matt Heinz, President at Heinz Marketing emphasizes the need to “tailor your questions and discussions to their specific role (IT, finance, engineering, etc.) vs. using generic statements or questions related to your products or their overall business.”
Ultimately, perfecting your telephone sales technique means investing a lot of time to plan, practice and persist in calling leads and prospects.
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