One of my goals in life was to pilot an airplane, so I began flight instruction with eager anticipation. Once airborne for the first time however, I found myself struggling to stay ahead of the airplane, and relying more than once on my instructor in the right seat to keep us safe. After a few hours, I became more and more comfortable. Much later, when I had been pilot-in-command hundreds of hours, each maneuver felt as comfortable as walking.
Mastering phone sales takes the same dedication, and has the same beginning struggles. Your mind will be filled with many do’s and don’ts, stuffed with product information, and potentially prepared for all the wrong objections. It takes time for your reactions to be natural; practice for your recall to bring up timely information; and dedication to cope with the embarrassment you may occasionally experience while learning.
To master phone sales, first create a call outline for each type of call. This call outline should include your call opening, compelling reason to call statement, open- and close-ended questions and your close. A call outline is not a script, rather it’s a map of how you expect this type of call to proceed. Batch your calls so you have at least 10 conversations using this call outline before you move on to something else. Take good notes, and make changes in the outline as you gain experience. No pilot ever takes off without referring to written checklist.
Second, remember you are talking to another human being. They aren’t expecting a performance or a show, they are expecting a conversation. The best way to encourage dialogue is to ask good questions and to truly focus and intently listen. Incorporate all the conversational extenders you use when talking to a friend or family member – for example, reflect what the customer just said to encourage the conversation to continue. If the customer just told you they were busy because their department was merged with another, you could reflect by saying “you found the merger was challenging.” Most customers will agree, and then give you even more information.
Third, remember when calling business-to-business, it is all about the customer’s business first, not yours. If what you are selling doesn’t address your customer’s business issue, what you are selling just won’t fly. Because of this elemental law of business sales, your first goal is to uncover the need. Therefore, don’t throw the product out there until you are parachuting into a need.
Fourth, keep great notes. Oh, I know, as salespeople, we’d rather talk than write, and English may not have been your best subject in school, but your notes will give you plenty of ways to keep subsequent calls with each customer unique, personal and customized. Relationships are built this way, and once you have great relationships with your customers, you’ll master phone sales. No goggles and scarf needed.
Okay, you are number one on the runway, take off!