Avoiding telephone hangups in sales

Be ready with the right response to offset objections
The last time you made a call to a current or potential customer, was it simply to sell a new product or maybe to handle a problem? How was your call received? Were you nervous, or did you feel good about placing the call? If you were nervous about the call, ask yourself why.
If the only time you contact a customer is to sell or handle a problem, you’re conditioning your customers to expect negatives and therefore resist your calls. When was the last time that you contacted a customer just to let him know about something that may interest him? Markets have changed, and so must our approach over the telephone. Here are some tips to help assure that your telephone efforts produce the long-term results that they need to:
1. Know what’s important to your customers before you call. What’s changing in their business and in their lives? Show them that they’re not just another call on a list of many.
2. Plan the call. Have a clear objective in mind, and be prepared to state the objective in terms of the benefit to the customer. Know what action needs to be taken. Do you want to schedule an appointment, etc.?
3. Show respect for a prospect’s time. Simply ask, “Do you have a minute?”, or “Did I catch you at a good time?” Be ready to reschedule the call if the prospect can’t talk at that time. After all, would you just barge into someone’s office and start your presentation?
4. Keep the call short and to the point. If your goal is to close for an appointment, do so quickly.
5. Always be there, but not only when it’s time to sell or handle a problem.
6. Match the style of the person you call. If you are working with someone who is brief and to the point, then be brief and to the point. You will be most effective if you employ the logic that your customer most quickly responds to.
7. Match the tone and pace of voice of the customer. This will help the customer to feel more comfortable with you. For instance, if the customer has a slower rate of speech, match that pace.
8. Be conversational. Use a cue card, not a script. Rehearse with co-workers before you make a call. Have a list of common objections handy for you to refer to. Have a general outline available to remind you of the sequence, but don’t read a script.
9. Be different from everyone else. Think of the types of calls you would respond negatively to. Do just the opposite.
10. Clarify stalls by asking open-ended questions. This is where most people get stuck. Customers use stalls when something isn’t quite right. Yet they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Use questions that help reveal the customer’s true intent.
Marcia Gauger is president of Impact Sales, a training and performance-improvement company with offices in Mukwonago and in Arkansas and California. Small Business Times readers can contact her in Mukwonago at 642-9610, or via fax at 501-964-0055.
Most common telephone stalls:
Stall Clarifying Questions
Send me some information.What specifically would you like to see?
Call me in a month.What do you see changing in a month?
Or, What will you be considering during that time?
Let me talk to my partner.What do you think his/her concerns will be?
I’m happy with my current supplier.What do you like most about them?
Let me think about it.What will you be considering?
You seem high priced.How much too much is it?
Or, What are you comparing it to?
I’m going to check around.Who will you be checking with?
Or, What are you looking for that you haven’t found with us?

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