Sales Management Digest

Are You Too Pushy on the Telephone?
Vinnie Lynch
The telephone is still the fastest way to create awareness with your target market about your product.

Salespeople should always run a mix of lead generation activities. The reality is that it takes time to build awareness and authority – so the telephone should be a pillar of your overall program.

The challenge with using the telephone is that it has been given a bad name by too many pushy salespeople. Ask your friends what they think of when they hear the word "telesales" and most will seize up! The key to success is to reverse-engineer the process and see it from the recipient's point of view.

Here are seven tips that will help you achieve greater success over the phone.
  1. Understand the person you are calling is not expecting your call. They are naturally going to be a little "standoffish."
  2. Lead with value. Having not expected your call, you need to get the value you have to offer out there ASAP, e.g., "We are working with competitor X in your space and have delivered Y value to them through the use of our product ABC. I wanted to connect with you to assess how much value we may be able to deliver."
  3. You are only trying to get to the next step in your sales process and not trying to close a sale. In this case, a meeting. It could be a face-to-face, a telephone, or Skype meeting – but that is all you are trying to achieve.
  4. You cannot build a strong relationship on the first call. It takes time build a relationship, so be respectful and professional.
  5. Prepare for objections. There are only four or five types of objections – all of which are designed to get you off the phone (again, they were not expecting your call, so they are on the back foot). Typically, these objections will fall under the following headings:
    1. "No thanks – I'm happy with our current supplier."
      The status quo is your biggest competitor. The person you are targeting did not contact you, so you are always going to get push-back. Embrace this and respond, "That's OK, – and most people are until we are able to share with them what we are doing with company ABC, where we have increased XYZ by 10 percent in the past six months."
    2. "I'm not interested right now."
      If they had been interested, they would have called you. "Carlie, a lot of photographers had the same response when I first raised this with them – what I wanted to do was share with you some of the results other photographers have experienced in working with us, where we have been able to grow their revenues an average of 20 percent within three months of working with us."
    3. "I'm too busy at the moment."
      Do not ask, "When is a better time to talk?" as the target will always take the opportunity to push you off the call. Instead, suggest a specific date and time: "Does Thursday at 10 a.m. work for you?" The target will either say yes, suggest an alternative, or tell you what they really think (e.g., "Not interested" or "Happy with what we have"). This gives you the opportunity to continue the conversation using one of the responses set out above.
    4. "Send me more information."
      This is a tactic to get you off the phone, so respond with another meeting time: "Does 10 a.m. tomorrow work for a chat around some of the things we have been doing for company XYZ in your space?" Play to their curiosity.
    Prepare answers that allow you to bring them back to the core reason you called.
  6. Respect their time and your time. If you have managed to communicate your value, dealt with objections, and they are still not interested, then be respectful. If they are not ready to engage, thank them for their time and move on.
  7. Embrace the nos. The old cliché applies: Every no brings you closer to a yes.
Vinnie Lynch is a sales and leadership coach with a proven track record – from working with multinationals to a seven-year stint as CEO of a technology start-up. Check him out at http://www.vinnielynch.com.
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