Had a great conversation with a fellow entrepreneur today. Brand new to a certain aspect of a similar industry, she expressed her frustration with a blown sales call. There’s nothing worse than doing everything right to make that phone ring only for something to go wrong on the line. You can feel it instantly. You’ve misspoke, stuttered, or completely botched a sales pitch; the buyer on the other end loses his trust in you. Time to pick up the pieces and move on..
There are plenty of books on cold calling, let’s spend time on how to answer a sales call. Lets discuss the 4 things every sales consultant must know before answering the phone.
Before we take another step, however, a quick note on procedure: That ringing sound a phone makes is sweet honey to the lips of the marketer at your company. His/her job is to make that phone make that noise. Answer that phone as quickly as you can. Don’t screen calls, don’t wait a few rings, answer it quickly, then try this advice.
1.Respect Your Position. By answering a sales phonecall, you are essentially taking the entire reputation of your company on your shoulders. Every person who speaks on behalf of the company is the de facto voice of the company. There is no difference in the mind of the caller as to whether you are an employee, owner, investor, etc. She or He who answers, is the company. Personality, Frustration, Irritation, Pride…They all shine through on a phone call. Respect the company by knowing that every word you say is considered the gospel of your company when you are on the company phone.
2. Know your stuff. Most companies have a few reasons why customers and prospects call. If your job is to answer the phone, your job is to know the answers. Whether your company sells oil changes or trips to the caribbean, if a client is calling for information, make it your mission to familiarize yourself with the potential questions and the best possible answers.
You will find that most of the questions asked during an initial sales call come from the same direction. Once the question has been asked 5 times, the marketing/ website should move to address this more consistently, in the interim, the sales consultant should have a ready, effective, benefit driven answer prepared.
3. Ask Many Questions. People are talkers and many, for the most part, enjoy talking about themselves or their ‘situation.’ Allowing a prospective client to talk will change so much of your success rate. Don’t assume that every client wants the same thing. I can’t tell you how many times a bride has called ready to book and I’ve almost talked them out of booking by assuming. Find out who they are and what they want, then lead them down the path to what you think will be best for them.
I find myself enjoying sales calls when the conversation is relaxed and the prospect feels she can talk to me as a friend. I’d much prefer to be a friend than a sales person to them anyway. Additionally, there are many good things in life that can come from a great conversation with a new person. Ask questions to best answer their needs and you may be surprised where that leads beyond a sale.
4. Be a Sales Consultant, Not a Sales Person
Studies show that when one is labeled a sales person their chances of being well received drop dramatically, however, consultants are adored members of our society. I mean, who doesn’t like someone offering free advice? Steps 2 and 3 relate well to step 4 as learning about their needs, and having great information about your product or service, will make you an incredible ally in their search for that which you offer. Be the expert they need and they’ll happily do business with you.
5. Speak in Benefits, Not Features
As exciting as it is for you to have the ‘Number 1 Product in the State’ or ‘Industry Leading for the past 6 years’ gadget, your prospect doesn’t need your worthless accolades. He or she wants to know how it’s going to improve his or her life, event, or business. Speak, when called, in terms of benefits to the customer rather than bragging about dimensions and awards. No one likes a bragger, but everyone loves someone who can do something for them. Everything you say about your product is one or the other, a feature (Biggest and Coolest) or Benefit (will save you $50 a year). Lead with the benefit, they’re calling you, so they already know the features.