What does a call center or sales team manager do with a slew of inexperienced or low performing agents lacking in confidence? Phone sales tips that worked in the past won’t necessarily work in today’s world due to a change in culture and the vast availability of information available. In addition, quality, experienced phone sales agents with the intention to stay at company for a long period of time are few and far between, especially with a limited hiring budget and a great need for sales and service representatives.
The key is to provide employees, new or seasoned, with the tools necessary to succeed and feel confident over the phone. You may have a long list of leads in front of you or be taking call after call but if you haven’t got the basics down, you won’t get far in the sales pipeline. Before diving in to the secret of making a sale, get your agents acquainted (or reacquainted) with these simple phone sales techniques that will keep your prospective customer interested and coming back for more.
1) Don’t be pushy.
Whether you are selling a product, service, or program, your approach should be based on building a relationship with your customer, not intimidating someone into getting something not needed or wanted. Your aggression may result in a “yes” for the time being from a submissive individual, but chances are when you hang up you will never hear from that person again.
Try using a more relational and helpful approach by answering questions openly and honestly. Take the time to really understand the individual’s needs so you can effectively identify the right product or service. You will leave the prospect with a positive customer service experience that will leave them open to future communication rather than avoidance. If it turns out they aren’t a good fit for your product, let them know. It’s far better than trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole. You’ll waste your valuable time and frustrate the customer.
2) Be a good listener.
In this technology-driven, fast-paced world, the art of listening has been lost. Listen without interrupting and don’t try to immediately shove information down your customer’s throat. The more you listen, the more you will be able to discover clues about the individual’s needs and determine if he or she is a good prospect. With so much information available, often times the customer has done their homework and already knows everything about your company. In the end, the prospect will appreciate your desire to listen.
3) Take good notes.
How many times have you thought you took decent notes when it turns out you have no idea what your notes mean? Having a good CRM system or inside sales software in place allows you to record useful information along with the type of follow up needed and disposition of the call. It should also allow you to shoot the prospect a quick email to recap what you discussed. Whether you made a lot of progress or just baby steps, notes come in handy during the next step or negotiation process and give you an edge. Don’t forget to review your notes after you get off the phone and before your next follow up.
4) Ask the right questions.
Asking the right questions keeps the prospect engaged and helps you figure out how your product would be a good fit. Keep initial questions simple. Identify any challenges the prospect may be experiencing, empathize, and probe even further to see if your product or service could help in overcoming these current challenges. Once you find out if your product could be of use to them, ask if the prospect would want to learn more if you could demonstrate a solution that can add value or lower costs.
5) Be adaptable.
There will be some prospects who will want to share their challenges and experiences with you and some who want you to quickly tell them how your product or service is going to fix the problem. People prefer to be around people who communicate similarly. Be prepared to adapt your questions and pitch based on your prospect’s demeanor and pace. Without overdoing it, match the prospect’s volume and tone, and, naturally, incorporate some of their words or phrases commonly used. During your initial contact, it is most important to make a connection with the person you are speaking to and adapt your approach based on the customer.
6) Know your industry.
Employees are usually given time during the training process to become more acquainted with a product or service and some even go the extra mile to research more during their down time. However, one can never over prepare. In addition to knowing your product, expect to be asked questions about your competitors and their products. Make sure you know your industry, your competitors, and what they offer.
7) Be prepared.
This can’t be emphasized enough. Before making an outbound call, make sure you have familiarized yourself with the prospect’s industry and review potential questions. If you are making a follow up call, review your notes that tell about where in the negotiation process you are at, the prospect’s demeanor, and follow up questions. If you receive an inbound call, make sure you have this information readily available.
There you go! Everything you need to know to be confident enough to pick up the phone and move on to the next step of the sales pipeline. Don’t worry if sales don’t immediately shoot through the roof. If each skill hasn’t fully been developed, it will take some trial and error to get your strategy down. Reflect on each call and ask yourself what you could improve on and give yourself credit for what you did right. Remember, practice makes perfect and if you follow these phone sales tips, you are already ahead of the game!