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“The telephone is a powerful sales tool, but only for those who are confident to use it! With “Field” salespeople working from home, it’s never been more important to be effective on the telephone.

In so many organisations, salespeople will be operating in environments, which are new, uncertain and potentially daunting for many. No longer able to engage in face-to-face sales activity, “field” salespeople will need to adopt alternative methods to sell and negotiate remotely, for example through online conferencing, social selling and selling on the telephone. However, the behaviours in these domains, to be successful, are fundamentally different.

One of the key barriers to successful selling on the telephone, even for “experienced” salespeople, is FEAR. Psychologically, there are a number of reasons for this, for example fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, and fear driven by a lack of self-belief and confidence in their skills. This is hardly surprising, given that most salespeople have not had the advantage of any guidance and/or coaching to develop effective telephone sales skills and behaviours.

Consider and try to practice the following elements, which are of course important in any sales situation, but have vital significance in telephone sales effectiveness?

The Importance of Psychology (Buying & Selling)

There are a multitude of factors here, but as one example, our passionate belief is that people buy people first; then they buy your business, and then they buy your product and/or service. This unchanging principle has unique challenges when selling over the telephone. Consider this in the planning stage before your telephone call; why should the prospect buy from YOU, why should they buy from your BUSINESS, and what is you COMPELLING proposition?

The Importance of Voice

Do you sound BORING on the telephone? Is your voice often MONOTONE? Try listening to your own dialogue and ask a trusted colleague for feedback. Sales effectiveness on the telephone involves understanding your voice, your volume, tone, pace, intonation and pronunciation, because if you don’t, you risk alienating the person on the other end of the phone, and success will be hard to find.

The Importance of the First 7 Seconds

“I’m just calling about our latest offer”, or “Can I quote you happy on widget X” are great ways to drive a prospect to hang-up the phone. Yes, the old adage, “You never get a second chance, to make a first impression” has never been more appropriate than in a telephone sales scenario. You have around 7 seconds to win the next 20, so what you say is critical, it needs to be an interest or attention-grabbing statement, that leaves the prospect wanting to know more. This is a key element of your planning stage, before you make the call. Based on the person you are calling, what will be interesting, what will get their attention. Apply the 3C’s test, is your opening statement, Clear, Concise and Compelling?

The Importance of Questions

In telephone selling, as in face-to-face selling, crafting appropriate questions has long been considered as the “silver-bullet” in sales. On the telephone, a brilliantly delivered question will compel a prospect to stay on the line and engage in conversation. Before you make the call, craft 3 questions, which are directly related to the reason you are calling in the first place, questions that will compel the prospect to think. Practice them, consider various responses you might get, and how you will progress the conversation.

The Importance of Listening

It’s an unfortunate fact, that often, salespeople don’t listen, not sensitively, not deeply. Instead, they often answer their own questions, cut across the person they are talking to, and consider their next question, without hearing the answer to the last one. Listening sensitively is a skill, it’s a behaviour that requires practice, and lots of it. On the telephone, the prospect can’t be seen, their body language can’t be seen, and the subtle cues can easily be missed. Listening with a sharp focus can help build understanding, build trust and rapport with the prospect, and drive increased sales effectiveness. One of the great benefits of selling on the telephone is being able to make copious notes, without the need to maintain eye contact, and this is just one top tip to aid more focused listening. Practice over the telephone with a team-mate, or with a family member, you’ll be surprised at what you hear!

The Importance of Commitments

If you’ve followed an effective sales process, and in addition, applied some of the skills and behaviours mentioned above, the chances are your prospect will still be engaged in the conversation. If this is the case, do not fear asking for a commitment, he or she is still talking to you for a reason! This isn’t hard, it just requires a level of assertiveness, and a simple question. For example, “When would you like to move forward with this”, or “Is there anything stopping us from progressing this order today?”.

So, the question for sales leaders and salespeople is, what are you doing to become more effective in telephone selling? It’s a powerful sales tool, if you practice and develop the requisite skills and behaviours, and in the current situation, it could be the lifeline your business needs.

If you would like further guidance or support in Telephone Sales Effectiveness, or would like access to our remote learning courses, just pick up the phone for a conversation!