The Art of the Sales Call.

Regardless of your industry or the products and services you sell the “sales call” is one of the best roller coasters you will ever ride. You could be a spring chicken or an old sales pro and you’ll experience a full realm of emotions such as anxiety, excitement, relief, frustration and a sense of accomplishment… all wrapped up into a single phone call with a prospect.

There are no magic words you can utter that will turn that prospect into a customer and you can’t use the same script on every person. Every prospect and prospects’ needs are different. Let’s face it… as sales people we have to chameleon (it’s a verb, too) on a regular basis depending on where we are and with whom we’re talking. I’ve been in sales for many years and have talked to countless sales pros and have learned something from each of them. I’d like to share some concepts that successful agents use that you can incorporate into your approach.

First, prepare for the phone call if possible by reviewing everything you have on the prospect. The goal of the call is to find a way to connect with that person. Get their attention, keep it, build rapport, qualify the prospect and get information. Focus on educating the prospect, likability and “helping” the prospect. Key words you might want to use include: help, savings, no cost, no obligation, a few minutes, quickly, etc. The call is not about you so do not use words like I, my or me. You’ll get better buy-in if they think it’s their idea… lead the prospect to water and you know the rest.

Second, let me say that “how” you say something is just as important as what you say. Maintain an even monotone voice on the phone to add integrity to what you’re saying. Maintain even pitch unless there are certain points you want to emphasize. Do not speed up, slow down or ever interrupt. When you think the prospect is done, wait another few seconds as you’d be surprised what people will say if you let them talk. And take notes throughout the call so you can respond accordingly addressing each of the prospects’ points.

Third, keep it simple. Ask for the person with whom you need to speak, identify yourself and tell them why you’re calling. Most sales professionals will tell you not to ask the prospect how they are doing. They don’t know you, you may likely get an answer you don’t want or you may (as weird as it sounds) cause more damage with a superficial attempt to build rapport. Get to the point.

Fourth, lead with your knock-out punch then a few jabs. What I mean is think of the top three reasons people buy or need your product and rate them in the order of one through three. On a sales call you only have a few seconds to get their attention and then have to keep it every few seconds thereafter. Don’t save your knockout punch for later as you may never get the chance to throw it.

Fifth, make a list of questions that will get your prospect thinking, engage them and pull the prospect into the conversation as a participant rather than a spectator. Then prioritize them from most likely to get a response to least likely and lead with your number one question. Whether I was on the phone or face-to-face I tried to always ask questions that I already knew the answer or was OK with all possible answers. For example, if I were selling health insurance I might ask “do you think you’re paying too much for your health insurance?” Most everybody thinks they’re paying too much. Also, make a list of possible objections you might receive and possible responses to overcome them. Most importantly write each new objection you receive as you hear them and “how” you overcame them for future reference.

Another good idea is to come up with a few giveaways the prospect can’t refuse. If you’re selling health insurance offer to explain their policies as most people don’t understand how insurance works. Explain there might be opportunities for savings if they haven’t reviewed their policy lately as there are always new plans and pricing being released. Perhaps consolidating policies can offer some savings. Ask them if they are getting all the discounts possible and list some discounts available… people like to save money. Lastly, offer to do all their shopping for them as some people hate shopping for certain things.

During the call, try to get to the next step. If the next step is to schedule an appointment don’t focus on selling the policy… sell the appointment. If you cross the line and come off too pushy it will be hard to recover from that stigma or image. Speaking of setting appointments, you do have to ask for the appointment (or sell), but go as far as the prospect wants to go. Give the prospect the power to choose when they will meet with you. (Written by Cory Prado) Do not ask “when” they want to meet as this implies an option may be to not meet at all. Give the prospect two to three options for specific appointment dates knowing that not meeting with you is not an option on the table. Remember what I said… only ask questions where you already know the answer and all possible answers and are prepared for all possible answers. Ask the prospect to write the appointment time down while you’re on the phone and offer a courtesy call if appropriate.

If per chance you are talking to someone that is not interested, don’t panic, interrupt or change the pace and pitch of your voice. Remain calm, wait and respond. Ultimately, you can’t change someone’s mind if their mind is made up. You can try to overcome one or two objections, but you have to know when to walk away. Every minute you waste trying to keep someone on the phone that is not interested is a minute you could spend talking to someone that wants to talk with you.

Ultimately, you’re going to try a variety of approaches, scripts and methods. You need to think of this as a science experiment and use the “Scientific Method” documenting what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and what results you’ve achieved so that you can hone your sales approach into a finely-tuned machine. It will take time, but nothing good comes easy. Remember, people buy from people they like and will pay more for it versus going with someone who is less and they don’t like. And if the prospect starts talking more than you during the call then you’ve got yourself a hot lead… congratulations! Each sales call is an opportunity to learn, hone your craft, develop your people skills and create a repeatable process for success. Happy Selling!
BY: Cory Prado

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