"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field."

~ Physicist Niels Bohr, quoted in the Harvard Business Review ~

Letting Yourself Off The Telesales Hook

Does the following ring any bells for anyone...

Letting yourself off the hook is the biggest and most damaging failure you can subject yourself to when trying to make a successful career in telephone sales. Personally, I think it's the business equivalent of the Black Death, which wiped out whole communities in 14th century Europe, spreading like wildfire and eventually killing 250 million people. Well, maybe that’s a slight overstatement, but in its own way it’s a shortcoming that can have a pretty devastating effect on office life.

So what does it mean in this context?  In simple terms it means letting yourself down through not pushing yourself, not doing enough to achieve your goals and ultimately hiding from the reality of how poor your performance might currently be.  In an average telephone sales team, four out of five workers are doing this and in many cases 5/5. Therefore you have to be continuously on your own case in all aspects of your work, although predominately in the actual conversations you have with existing and potential clients. Here are just 13 of the top 100 ways in which we all let ourselves off the hook in telesales.  I have picked them randomly; they are not in order of importance. But they are all vital nonetheless.  And there are plenty more.

1. Delaying getting started on the phone each day (everyone does this, even you)

2. Knowingly and lengthily pitching the wrong person (one of the worst traits of mediocre staff)

3. Not trying hard enough to find the right person to speak to.

4. Not working from a script (how many actors don’t use a script?  Answer:  none

5. Relying on luck in the hope that the recipient of every call will be a soft touch who might just eventually buy from you.

6. Making no attempt to close the deal whilst pitching (the cardinal sin in sales).

7. Not taking control of the conversation and not keeping that control.

8. Not isolating the main objection and closing the call with answers to it.

9. Turning up for work physically but not mentally.

10. Not knowing your numbers and not knowing how to use them to increase sales.

11. Getting frustrated and not listening:  the second-worst trait in sales.

12. Trying to email your way to the winners’ enclosure:  Almost the ultimate cop-out in telesales.

13. Wasting time in a telesales job as you wait for your inheritance to come through. I have seen this a hundred times. If anyone was obviously doing this in my office, I would bodily kick them out of the door.

The above is a sample selection from my ‘100 things that happen all the time in telephone sales offices’. People are lazy, uncommitted and not fired up much of the time, so you need to make yourself the exception. I find my work brings me into contact with hundreds of people looking for the Holy Grail of telephone sales. But there are actually no secrets.  There is simply the reality that we all tell ourselves a story about why we are as we are and that story allows us to make ourselves into the people we become.  So unless you are prepared to work seriously on yourself, you will almost certainly stay as you are. Good people stay good and mediocre people stay mediocre. So you can guess the answer for poor-quality people. That's why I describe it as 'Letting Yourself Off The Hook'. The best people are exceptional and rare.  Their attitude to work is part of an overall lifestyle that permeates most aspects of their waking day.

Individual behaviour is a choice and that choice has usually been made long before a job advertisement is responded to. Everyone can change, but few will. Most will sooner change jobs in favour of something easier, rather than knuckle down and make a serious income on the phone. Which one are you?  Make a list of an additional 10 ways you let yourself off the hook each day in your work.  If one is honest about oneself, it’s an easy list to compile.  And I have never failed to help a person complete it.

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