Raise your hand if you love talking on the phone. Anyone? Anyone? In 21 Jump Street, Jonah Hill’s character was criticized for calling a girl on the phone because as Brie Larson’s character pointed out, her grandparents were the only ones who ever called. The movie came out almost ten years ago!
Millennials grew up IMing, texting, and posting on each other’s walls. We came of age not with phones glued to our ears but our eyes glued to their screens. Most of us have phone anxiety –– that heat-palpitating, palm-sweating, panic-inducing state we go through just before dialing. Unfortunately, the phone remains a vital selling tool. If you’re worried about your next call to a potential client or customer, here are seven phone sales techniques that close.
Put an outline on your screen or jot down some notes. What are the main selling points? What are some potential objections along with how you’ll overcome them? Know your agenda before you call. Outline what you’ll be saying prior to hopping on the call.
You’re in control –– if you want to keep the call from getting derailed, you need a clear plan of attack.
2. Smile and Dial
This is an oldie but a goodie. It doesn’t matter that you’re not videoconferencing. Your listener can feel your smile (or lack thereof). So before you make the call, take a deep breath. Picture something that provokes a grin, like a goofy toddler, dogs at a dog park, or something funny a friend said. Let the smile arrive naturally and hold that image as you get ready to call. One more thing ––
3. Get Up
When you rise up, your enthusiasm follows. Your voice resonates more when you stand. I get that it seems silly, but believe me when I say the person on the other end of the call can sense the energy in your voice. Standing up increases your confidence. You are the leader of this call. Keep control by utilizing friendly strength as you drive the conversation, ask important questions and actively listen. I call this “the dance of mastery.” It’s easier sitting in your swivel chair and chatting, but easy isn’t ideal. Getting up focuses your mind. Now aren’t you glad this isn’t a Zoom call?
4. Manners Matter
If you’re a phone novice, it can be easy to be rude. Always ask to speak with the potential client by using their full name. Say hello at the beginning and goodbye at the end. If you have to make multiple calls in a short period of time, it’s easy to get sloppy. Remember each prospect is a brand new relationship –– no matter how horrible your previous call might have been they need to be treated with kindness, charisma, and clarity. Work on your “uhhms,” “likes,” and other verbal tics which while not exactly rude aren’t very pleasant to listen to either.
5. Present a Clear Pitch
Have the data at the ready as you present a coherent argument for why your product or service is ideal for the client’s needs. Your pitch should be direct, but you want to listen to your client’s questions and objections too. It’s easy to fall into the trap of open-ended questions, but this is a guaranteed way to wind up in the weeds. Ask questions that lead to yes –– like “Doesn’t it seem like this product offers a solution to that problem?” Overcoming “nos” is much harder. Remember, as the salesperson, you must take the lead and maintain the call’s boundaries. Otherwise your potential client will lead it astray. If they interrupt with questions, let them know you’ll get to their queries soon. Always answer questions at an appropriate time. Stay on the agenda.
6. Moderate Your Enthusiasm
Counterintuitive though it may be, too much enthusiasm can kill the sale. Overly cheerful salespeople make people nervous. So dial it down a notch. If you hear your voice going up, drop the volume. You don’t want to pitch in a monotone but fake excitement is the mark of an amateur. The best salespeople don’t seem like sales people. In fact, the best pitches are conversations. Remember, you are helping the person you’re calling.
7. Close and Wait
Selling past the close is another amateur error. You don’t need to keep convincing the other person. Once you have made your pitch and your close, wait. If they speak first, they are more likely to be buyers. Let them make the decision.
A final bit of advice. If at all possible, avoid cold calling. Millennials in particular view unscheduled calls as rude. Unexpected phone calls are major distractions and on average we take 23 minutes to recover from them. Generate leads from targeted marketing and emails. Set a convenient time to answer questions telephonically. After all, providing helpful information is one of the best sales techniques.
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