9 Tips for a Successful Sales Call
A post from our Sales blog
Written by John Boddington
No matter how confident we are in our product or service, most of us will do everything in our power to avoid
. Even the best salesperson will go through days where they try and avoid the phone, opting to send emails, prepare direct mailshots, or go to networking event instead. Eventually though, the ‘dreaded' sales call will need to be made.
But it doesn't have to be as difficult or as fear-inducing as some people experience it. The following sales call tips can turn even the most unlikely employee to an all-firing sales hero.
1. Overcome Your Fears
Most of us aren't born natural sales marketers – cold calling takes guts and you're going to have to develop a thick skin. It's understandable that your first instinct is to put off that sales call, procrastinating through ‘essential' to-dos before you pick up that phone. But in order to become a successful telephone sales marketer, you need to put those fears behind you.
The first thing you're going to need to accept is that it's not personal
. The rejections, sudden hanging up, or even insults are not geared towards you. Remember, to the person on the other end of the line, you're just another interruption to their busy schedules. And some won't wait to listen to your spiel, no matter how good it is. When that happens, just move on to that next call.
2. Assemble Leads
Don't just pick up the phone and start dialling. That's not what the ‘cold' stands for in cold calling. If you don't assemble a list of leads that are targeted, you won't even hit a 1% success rate.
The key is finding companies and/or individuals that actually need your product or service. If they're already looking for the solution you've got on offer, the sell will almost be automatic.
3. Work on Your Voice
Your voice should reflect an authority in the industry. If you sound like a nervous teenager, executives won't want to do business with you. Working on your sales voice
is almost more important than the material.
Ensure your voice is at the right speed. Nervous? Do your best to avoid that horrendous high-pitched tone that nerves tend to bring out. Be polite, but authoritative. Nice, but not sickeningly sweet. Be respectful, but remain on equal footing. If possible, record your calls so that you can analyse them later on.
4. ‘Unscript' Your Script
Having a script is a not a bad idea. It gives you a basis on which to base your call, you can perfect it over time, and it ensures you won't forget any of the important points. But if it starts becoming too robotic, people will experience your calls as a monotone snooze fest.
What you need to do is ‘unscript' your script – in other words, don't sound like you're literally reading from one. The best thing to do would be to succinctly write down the order of the points you're going to make alongside a couple of general reminders. The rest should be done off the top of your head, naturally and the way you'd hold a normal conversation. That's because people want to talk to humans not robots.
5. Don't Just Talk, Listen
Whether through nerves or a love of their own voices, salespeople have a tendency to yap on just a little too much. So next time you feel that you're about to go into verbal diarrhoea mode, try asking a question and listening to what your lead has to say.
This won't just set up a more pleasant conversation, but it will allow you to feed off signals. This gives you the opportunity of planning your next move based on what they've had to say, rather than just churning out your script. For that reason, it's also important to equip yourself for different scenarios.
6. Be Prepared
Having a sales call plan
is paramount. Just because we're saying that you need to unscript doesn't mean you have an excuse to not prepare at all. On the contrary, meticulous planning is an integral part of becoming a successful salesperson.
Always do your homework and treat each call as a project in itself. Read about the company in question and know exactly why your product or service fits. Find out everything you can about the directors and executives you may end up talking to. Going in blind is a massive error and will lead to missed opportunities.
7. Don't Overpromise
The problem that many salespeople have is that they are just too keen to sell their product. This leads to ridiculous claims about basic products such as printer cartridges. Don't lump your sales identity alongside the rest, but instead be realistic about your product or service.
Of course, being positive is a prerequisite – negativity is obviously not going to get you anywhere. But that doesn't mean you have to promise something you just can't deliver. Ultimately, just tell the truth. Explain how your product will solve their problems and how it can help to drive the business forward and crank up profits.
8. Getting Past the ‘Gatekeeper'
Perhaps the greatest enemy of the telephone sales force is the so-called ‘gatekeeper'. More so than focusing on their actual job title, it seems that their sole role is to keep out the unwanted salesperson. But instead of pitching your tent and starting a siege, it's best to take an approach that's a little friendlier.
Be authoritative, but not hostile. Don't let it show that you're irked by the fact a gatekeeper has answered. Never leave a message except as a last resort – you'll rarely get a call back. If your target is unavailable, don't just ask when they're back. Instead, ask something akin to the following:
"What time do you answer the phone till? And will you be available tomorrow morning?"
These two questions may seem a little unconventional, but they serve a very specific purpose. Usually, the managers and directors tend to burn the midnight oil. By knowing when the gatekeeper isn't around to screen their calls, you may very well find yourself in luck and talking to the person you're looking for straight off the bat.
9. Get Calling!
Finally, once you've finished this article, don't go snooping for additional tips, scripts, or anything else that can essentially be filed under procrastination. It's time to get calling. Don't worry if you start off with a barrage of failures, you'll get there.
Ultimately, sales is a numbers game. And the best in the business know that like no other, which is a huge part of the reason why they're so successful. Don't give up, keep those calls ringing, and tweak your approach as you move forward. That's success in telephone marketing in a nutshell. Just remember: practice makes perfect. Just because your first attempt doesn't give you the expected result doesn't mean the advice isn't solid.