13.5 Phone Abuse Problems in Sales (and a few solutions)
Picture this: You’re about to call a prospect to follow up for the third time. At the other end of the line, your prospect is doing nothing. He has his hand poised and ready on the top of the receiver, hoping you’ll call and try to close the sale you started. What a fantasy. Dream on…
Here’s the real picture: Your prospect is in the middle of somewhere between a hundred and a thousand things, and will do his or her best to avoid you like the plague. In fact, on his top ten list of people he wants to talk to least, you’re somewhere between the IRS and a spouse’s lawyer in a divorce battle.
1. Failure to understand the other person’s situation is critical to making the sale. But it’s only one of a number of areas critical to a salesperson’s success on the telephone. Here are 12.5 more abuses and errors made by salespeople that cost them (you) sales and delight their (your) competition:
2. Talking too long. There’s a very fine line between building rapport and being too long winded. There’s an even finer line between following up and closing the sale. Success Tactic: Set objectives before each call and time your calls. Stand up when you’re speaking to get a better sense of urgency. Use your judgment well. Get all the business and personal (relationship building) information you need.
3. Not getting to the point fast enough. Have the guts to spit it out without hiding behind a bunch of insincere words or questions. (When I hear, “How are you today?” on a cold call, it makes me throw up.) Success Tactic: State your objective first. It puts the other party at ease and gives you a chance to build rapport as the conversation progresses.
4. Talking about others in a negative manner. This is one of the poorest reflections you can give a customer or prospect about you and the way you do business. Success Tactic: Don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to their face. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. (Then call your mother and tell her you’re finally doing what she told you 20 years ago.)
5. Making personal calls. It’s so tempting to do, but it often ruins your focus and train of thought. Sell while the time is right. Success Tactic: Don’t unless it’s urgent.
6. Making non-productive calls. Time is money. Your money. You choose the time you spend on the phone. Invest wisely. Success Tactic: Make a list of calls and rate them A‑B-C in priority. Call every A before you call a B.
7. Being unprepared to answer questions or make the right point. A bit of pre-planning is the difference between sale and no sale. Success Tactic: List (and prepare) what you need for each call before you make it.
8. Making too few calls. Excuses of “I didn’t have enough time” don’t make goals. Success Tactic: Set time(s) aside each day in your day-planner to make calls.
9. Not getting the results you expect (need) from a high % of calls. You may not have the product knowledge or sales skills needed (even though you’re sure you do). Success Tactic: Make a list of reasons people are rejecting you or putting you off and incorporate them into your training program.
10. Not making clear communications. Disaster for salespeople. Success Tactic: Repeat important information back verbally and confirm it in writing. Make a firm date to recall.
11. Not starting with daily goals and numbers. If it takes 20 calls to get four appointments, or 10 follow-ups to get one sale, those are the operative numbers of your success. If you need to make 30 calls a day to get four appointments and make one sale, do it. Success Tactic: Put your needed numbers on the wall in front of your phone, next to the picture of the new car you’re trying to get.
12. You don’t have the training to control and harness the power of the phone. Develop a personal plan by identifying your specific weaknesses. Success Tactic: Train yourself every day for 30 minutes on some aspect of product or sales.
13. Blaming others for your failure to succeed on the phone. “He wouldn’t return my call” or the popular “He wouldn’t give me an appointment” head the list. I’m sure you have a few of your own. Success Tactic: Wake up to the fact that your success or failure is totally your responsibility and choice.
13.5 Failure to be happy on the phone. No one, especially customers, wants to hear or feel your problems through the phone. Make them feel good. Make them laugh. Success Tactic: Surround your phone area with words and posters of encouragement, attitude and inspiration. Keep awards won within eyesight. Have pictures of loved ones. Hang children’s drawings. Things that make you smile on the inside. Have a mirror by your phone to ensure outside smiles.
“Watson, come here, I need you to help me close a sale!” was the original version of the famous Alexander Graham Bell line. History has altered it somewhat, due to lack of respect for salespeople. Don’t let this lack of respect creep into your sales personality.
Take the ultimate phone test. A self-evaluation where you can rate your ability in 30 areas of telephone skills. (If you dare!) Just go to www.gitomer.com and enter the secret words, PHONE TEST in the GitBit box.
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