Every time a telephone salesperson picks up the phone, they probably realize they are about to interrupt someone’s day. Oh, the individual answering the phone may only be casually looking at social media, but they are doing something, and the human mind tends to want to stay with it. This means the answering party may give off a less than enthusiastic response, and sound irritated. This creates anxiety for the telephone salesperson, especially since they may encounter this reaction thirty or more times a day. There is a simply way to reduce anxiety and stress – make the call about the potential customer, not about the selling organization or the telephone salesperson. Although the human mind is reluctant to switch tasks, it is eager to converse about the most important object in the universe – itself. The mechanism to do so is called the compelling reason to call.
On the inbound call to customer service, the customer has an interest, or they wouldn’t have picked up the phone and gave the selling organization a call. In field sales, being face-to-face generates interest. A field salesperson gets a lot of credit just for showing up. The telephone salesperson however, must generate interest immediately on every call. Sufficient interest must be generated to prod the customer into stopping what they were doing before the phone rang and talk to the telephone salesperson. In addition, a large portion of the human brain is dedicated to processing visual images, and this part of the customer’s brain is still doing this task when they say hello. Therefore, the beginning of the call must generate immediate interest.
What generates interest? Something quickly relevant to the customer which snaps them out of the trance of what they were doing and looking at before the call. “The last time we talked, you told me you were working on the Barker project, how is it going?” “I understand you were assigned to wring out 25% of your inventory investment.” “You asked me to give you a call if we had a special or promotion which could save you money.” “Your insurance policy will expire at the end of the month, and we should talk about renewal so you don’t miss any coverage.” The magic word is you. Something about the customer, something to make them take immediate notice.
The best compelling reason to call is generated from the customer narrative. What do you do if you don’t have a customer narrative because you haven’t talked to this individual before and they are only a suspect? The best thing to do is to call someone else besides the decision maker first. Ask yourself, who can I call within the organization that will give me some inside information. You aren’t looking for anyone to betray any secrets or tell you anything confidential, just some information to make the call with the decision maker immediately relevant. For the largest account I have, we called their Corporate University. Because the University was inward facing to their employees, and because the corporation itself didn’t have any salespeople – all the salespeople worked for their dealers – the Corporate University couldn’t be a customer of ours. However, they could supply us with enough information to make the decision maker call compelling. They were willing to talk because they rarely received outside calls, and we were just trying to help.
For the telephone salesperson, anxiety goes away if the person on the other end of the line is genuinely interested in talking – talking about themselves of course.