Telephone Selling is Dead – Long Live Telephone Selling
I have just put down the telephone after another unskilled, low paid, unenthusiastic telesales person has tried to sell me something by reading a poorly designed script at me. It is such a pity to waste sales opportunities in this way and this article is all about how to revive the telesales call.
Telephone selling has been around as long as the telephone but the techniques used by telesales people don’t seem to have been updated for decades. I am still getting phone calls telling me that I have been chosen from 4,000 people to win a new car, a television or a weekend away. I am sure this approach is still working because it is still being used but the strike rate must be being eroded as more people use it. In any event, most people (99 out of 100?) end up with a bitter taste in their mouths when they discover that the weekend away (the only real prize) is a con because they have to use their own transport to get there and pay for all meals. What is the lasting impression of the company who uses this technique?
I believe it is time for telesales people to sell rather than to simply read a script. Selling takes longer of course. Selling requires that we ask lots of questions to discover what the prospect needs before we provide our benefits. Selling means that we have to listen more and talk (or read scripts) less…. much less!
I am not saying that scripts are bad things; on the contrary I am often paid to develop scripts for companies trying to update their approach. The script, however, must be much more flexible and focus on the customer and their response to the questions we ask. Consider the following used by my company:
Pre Telesales call
• Qualify and research the prospect to find out as much as you can about him or her.
• Make sure you are going to call the decision maker
• Prepare the questions you will be asking
• Make sure you have an objective for the call ( to uncover more information, to close the sale, to do a survey etc.)
Introduction (once we are certain we are talking to the decision maker)
“Hello Mr Smith” (or better still “John”) “This is Richard Mulvey from Niche Training, (Use his first name if you know it and use both your first and last names) and the reason for my call is to ask you about your company’s training requirements for the coming year.”
We must not ask if they have the time to talk, they will tell you if they haven’t got the time. We solve this problem by weaving the word “Briefly” early into the conversation. Do not ask “How are you today”. This will tell the prospect that you are a sales person reading from a script.
The next thing to do is to ask for more information and that will depend on where we got the lead.
[bctt tweet=”Learn how to not suck at phone sales scripts.” username=”richardmulvey”]
If they are a new prospect (and presuming you have done the research) “Briefly, how do you find your training schedule (replace “training schedule” with something the prospect will care about) working out for you?”
If they are a referral: “Fred Jones said I should give you a call, “Briefly, how do you find your training schedule working out for you?”
If they don’t respond with a problem you can solve for them continue with “Open” questions (Open questions start with Who, What, When, Why, Where or How) to uncover their needs
“What sort of challenges do you have with your training program?”
“What sort of training are you offering your staff?”
“Who gets training within your organization?”
“How does the staff feel about that?”
“When was the last time you reviewed your training program?” etc.
The purpose of these questions is to uncover problems you can solve with your products.
Be very careful to store all the information as you get it. All information, how ever trivial, may be useful.
Once we have found a problem we can solve we will go on to say:
“Many of the companies I have been speaking to have exactly the same sort of problems, that’s why Niche Training has recently launched a new sales training program that will … (benefit 1) and also … (benefit 2). The benefit to you is that … (solution the customer is looking for). Can you see that working for you?”
Keep this as brief as possible and only include those benefits that will solve problems we have uncovered so far. Remember, customers don’t buy features they buy solutions.
If they seem interested…
“Thank you for your time, John. Let me e-mail you the details for you to consider.” (If they are Hot – follow up straight away with another call to close the deal.)
If they don’t seem interested…
“Thank you for your time, John. Can I e-mail you a copy of the details of the training program just in case you are interested sometime in the future.” (We will call them again anyway if they are a good prospect to make sure they got the email)
After each call
– make sure you have the system up to date with all the information you gathered from that call.
Have a look at the above and then re-write your script. The next stage, of course is to practice it. You should never be reading your script to your prospect so you have to memorise it and then discard it. Become flexible in the call so that you can respond naturally to each prospect.
Good luck with it, let me know how it goes.