Episode 74 of Landscape Digital Show reveals 9 ways telephone selling can be used to get people talking, earn trust and grow relationships
When I began my career in the early eighties I accepted a technical sales position with a big oil company. That’s when I learned to overcome my fear of the telephone as a selling tool.
At that time telephone selling skills were everything because other than personal meetings, it was the fastest way to make discoveries, share information and develop relationships.
Like anything else, telephone selling is something you learn from experience. This may be why so many people today are afraid of cold calling. They have seldom been in tough situations where they had to make it work.
Instead, they lob an email out there and hope for the best. There’s a problem with that approach. Everyone else is using it too.
This is why telephone selling works. It makes you memorable, and that should be enough to make it a key part of your selling strategy.
Not only that, it improves the effectiveness of your other selling tactics, including email and social media.
Telephone Selling Sparks Relationships
If your audience is predominantly comprised of people are over the age of 40, there is a very good chance they prefer to do business in person or over the telephone. While they may use text and email, you will never truly have their full attention unless you are face-to-face or on the telephone with them.
The telephone gets and holds people’s attention. If you have ever tried to have a short telephone conversation you know that it’s not easy because most people want to have a little small talk first; it’s just how we are wired as human beings.
The telephone makes human connections that are vital for earning trust and closing deals.
Contrast that with email, texting, and social media. These methods of communication are best-suited to brevity. It’s why lengthy social media updates earn the tag TLDR – too long didn’t read.
That’s not going to happen with telephone selling if you follow these 9 proven practices that respect the person you are calling and the value that you bring to him or her. You may not agree with all of them but give each a few tries before rejecting any because people are different and not every tactic will work every time.
#1. Have a written telephone selling plan.
This includes how you will open and close the call, and key questions to ask. This is especially important if you are not comfortable with telephone selling, and if there are key issues you want to be sure to address.
However, be prepared to go off script. Most important is to follow the lead of your caller. If they want to small talk you should too. They will let you know when it’s time to talk business.
#2. Do not send an email to set up the call.
If you use email to state your business up front you increase the odds of having your call ignored. That email gives your caller what they need to craft an excuse for the gatekeeper.
#3. Be prepared to leave an intelligent voicemail.
Congratulations. While you did not have a conversation, you’ve become more memorable than your competition that isn’t using the telephone. Now you can follow-up with an email to provide additional value that you promised in the voicemail.
It’s a process that you have to plan and track.
#4. Research your caller.
When your call is accepted you need to quickly establish alignment. The purpose of the call is to develop a more personal relationship by making discoveries that are shared with the inner circle. Come to the call prepared or you will destroy that trust.
Also, be sure to update your CRM systems to document the call and build your intelligence for this contact and others like him or her.
#5. Connect the dots to mutually trusted connections.
Having mutual friends in common is a great way to establish alignment that moves the conversation along. Just be prepared with details that only another friend would know about that person.
#6. Be humble.
People may be intense or relaxed, but those that are most successful are always humble because nobody knows everything there is to know. Be attentive and interested and you will make surprising discoveries.
#7. Offer to collaborate.
This stops short of offering a solution and that earns respect from people that don’t want to be pitched, and that’s most of us. Collaboration always leads to better outcomes and greater commitment to seeing them through.
#8. Go for no instead of yes.
High-pressure sellers go straight for yes and that makes people uncomfortable because everyone has a different process for making decisions.
Smart sellers make inquiries that are likely to receive a no response. This approach eliminates obstacles and objections one at a time. Eventually, there is only one likely response, and whether that’s a yes or no, you will be remembered as a professional.
And that is how you get referrals from people that do not become your customer.
#9. Thank them for taking the call.
This is an extension of being humble. Your caller took a chance that you might have some value to offer. And they invested a nice chunk of their time. That should be acknowledged in no uncertain terms.
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Call to Action
As I was putting these tactics together I realized there are more I’ve developed or happened upon during the course of making thousands of telephone selling calls over the years. I’ll put those together for a future episode.
Until then, the call to action for this episode is to put these 9 telephone selling tips to the test. Then drop me a line to let me know how they are working for you.