A very different take on the old confidence story…
Confidence in the field of telesales canvassing, telephone selling, and meetings making has long been the biggest issue for most practitioners of each. Sales managers and business owners often scratch their heads in dismay when looking at sales figures. Part of this is often the very unrealistic expectations from people running a company who are never involved in the grunt work of making the calls. Those that do make the calls are eager to please but just can't get far past the target setting meetings without some form of rot setting in early.
As often as not, everyone starts out on the wrong foot. It's not just you, it's everyone. Happy days when targets are met but I am focusing on the struggle that often occurs.
I get many owners saying that they listen to their team and seriously wonder what they are doing and saying as they garble their way through introductions and pitches. Everyone looks at confidence and ultimately everyone sees the problem as a lack of confidence . However this normally has to be explained to them and the right procedures and process introduced. This is what I do. I take Rag, Tag and Bobtail and make them a fighting machine.
Am I right or wrong? A lack of confidence is indeed the main reason for the woeful figures many telephone sales teams return. For me it's simple to see where the problem is. Not because I am a know-all but because I lived through this multiple times with many teams. Over ambitious targets aligned with underperforming teams . Also about 25% of those tasked with meeting making and selling over the phone suffer a more than average need for approval. They cannot stomach perceived rejection and secretly desire permanent affirmation of their value in life . Not a great way to be for telephone work is it ? Some need a push out of the business, sad to say.
I ask everyone to take themselves back to their education. In every case if examinations and University degrees have been passed it is greatly due to the pupils and undergraduates having done work at home. It was called "homework" at school and college and we all did it and most of us passed the exams. But now?
As soon as we get into the workplace there is this train of thought that tells us that it's our employers duty to train us and pass on knowledge and all this has to be done in the employers' time only. Nobody in sales reads much and the idea of self-improvement is not a part of many people's agenda anymore. You may be thinking this is a bit of a rant but it's useful to know. Most people I know working in telesales simply pitch up at their office and shoot from the hip in a highly unprofessional and undisciplined way. There are exceptions, and I have helped many of them.
The best people will always be the best people. Usually they are packing more into their days. They are packing some time in at home researching on the internet and they are alive to learning opportunities and have a sparkling outlook not seen in the rest of a team. They come to work buzzed up for the challenges of the day.
This, of course, is the crazy bit. If you are to excel in the workplace and be confident on the phones then there is nothing that will help you more than firstly practice and secondly your own homework done at home just the same as you did at school. I am referring in part to the company website. You learn it backwards. I am referring to product knowledge and any brochures, any handbooks that your company has. You learn them backwards. Industry journals, White papers, your competition's websites and products. All these things are the key to your success with regard to confidence. Please stop blaming other things for your lack of confidence. Confidence reigns supreme when you absolutely know what you are talking about and your clients are not tripping you up or holding their phones in disbelief as you continue to spout garbage, confusion and your basic lack of knowledge or interest (or both).
The answer for all of us is to become experts and very much in our own time not our employer's time. That is the answer to phone confidence and your lack of it. It always is the answer and it always has been. Homework guys ! Do some serious homework every week. Put this into practice and you will thank me one day for this advice, although that day is hardly going to be today!
Do the above and then have confidence in your products and in yourself. That all comes from the additional product knowledge and self discovery. Trying to get better at actual selling requires commitment rather than the idea being put on a wish list. You cannot wish yourself better at sales and meeting making.
One final point that was illustrated very clearly to me by a stranger at a dinner party recently. This person, female, appeared as being very gregarious and once she knew what I do for a living couldn't wait to tell me how she had a high powered job but worked from home. In her forties and was petrified of cold calling and yet was one of the most confident people I have met in a long time. Her reason was fear of the phone apparently. The more she carried on selling me her ideas of her shortcomings the more convinced I became that this had little or nothing to do with lack of confidence. Her particular issue was a catatonic fear of rejection.
Many, many people, cannot deal with rejection on the phone. With proper coaching I am able to get about 50% of people over this problem. Only 50%. Due to upbringing and past experiences some will never get past that fear of rejection. These are needy people who need positive and permanent confirmation of their own worth. I am often explaining to people how their attitude on their phone calls would be very, very different if they were appealing to or instructing their own children or partners. It's a way of showing people how they need to seriously 'up' their commitment to the job in hand of persuading others. It's not about them it's all about how important they take their communication and effect on others. As with advising your children not to step out into the road from a pavement too quickly. You will never get that instruction wrong but you will get your phone sales pitches wrong. It's just often not important enough to you. You are hoping to make calls and just get lucky. Sad, but true.
Meanwhile most people can get over these fears and phobias provided they have some drive and ability to take on board some straight talking. This is where an experienced and fluent telephone sales coach can really help.
Your confidence issues are never insurmountable. You have to take measures to become an expert on your subject and then it all kind of flows very easily. Neither your boss or I can do this for you. Get weaving on yourself and your company and its products and services is my very best advice. Become the company expert. And stop being precious about rejection.
"Look after your prospects or else your competitors will do that for you".
The parallels between football and the business world of sales teams…
A number of Manchester United players do not have the mental fortitude to represent the club according to manager Jose Mourinho. As usual this was said before quite a big game but does have a "ring of truth" to it. They went on to win the big game which proves his motivational skill once again. The following rant did the trick. I can use it as a direct comparison for telephone teams.
The United manager admitted that his squad were worryingly bereft of players with a winner's mentality, which is one of the reasons why they have fallen so far behind Manchester City, the Premier League champions this year with a record 100 points.
"How many points separate us from Manchester City? It's not two, three or four. It's a lot of points" said Mourinho when asked if there was a lack of quality or an issue with the mindset of his players.
"We need both things," he said. "Some of the people have to be more consistent and we need more quality. I trust some more than others that can bridge the gap. Some players, I am convinced, they are going to make it. Some, I have good hopes, that they are going to make it, and some others I don't believe are going to make it”.
Mourinho believes that the fact that United have lost away from home to all three of the teams promoted last season proves the lack of mental strength.
"When you lose against all the teams that were promoted it doesn't smell right to me" Mourinho said. "I have to try to succeed in getting every player to have the same mentality as I have - to face every team in the same way”.
Unfortunately for Mourinho he feels he will be facing the same mental fragility next season too. " Unless you have a perfect squad you have to keep players you don't love. - I say 'love' footballistically and players you don't totally believe have the same level of the squad".
When asked about a footballer's most important attribute Mourinho said "The most important quality is to be a man, MAN capitals, a proper man, and football is not full of them. And not just football, society is not full of them."
What interests me about the interview is the parallel universe of football as described here and the business world and sales teams. We are all part of squads the same as being in football teams. The question I will pose here is where are you in Mourinho's estimation of the mental "level" of the squad ? Are you above the line or below the line? One of your challenges in any sales business is to ensure you end the week, the month or the year above the line. You all should be able to think of six new ways or improvements to existing ways of working that will bring you above the line. I want the best of you to email me your ways that should ensure you end up top of Mr. Mourinho's mentality team sheet.
This challenge is not about company targets as many things can affect that. It is about being above the line. We can all accomplish that. I am currently reading a sales book of 1981. It’s called Shut Up and Sell. The authors says if you are a top salesman how many books have you read on sales and motivation? He thinks it needs to be 30 or 40. I personally have 200 on sales, psychology of sales and persuasion. Many reading this will never have owned or read a single book on sales. You will hang around the shallow end of the sales pool all your life on that basis.
Get to grips with your life and your sales ability with the help of others or quite simply quit and get a job with the local council. Some of you should not even be in sales. It's a sad truth. Others could be so much better and it's all about how much we need and how much of yourself you devote to this career or is it just another job to fill out your twenties and thirties ? I meet many who are suffocating themselves with negative thinking or externalising all their sales failure to price, product or anything they can grab hold of. Get a huge grip on yourself before your personal clouds become terminal. Selling is 100% about being up for stuff and opportunities so don't blame others for your own inability.
That's the challenge from me. For the few at the top of the tree you need to keep this up. In sales you are only ever as good as that last stellar performance. Consistency is a hard task master and is maintained by the guys at the top who have process, flexibility, focus, drive and a winning smile.
Think about it. It is within almost all of you to be at the top.
These tips will work in any telephone related position…
Expect a performance boost of 15- 40% if you conform to each of the following tips...
Focus is all about the small stuff. Look after the small stuff as well as you can…
Part of my life is spent "going on a bit" with people. I am sure this is quite annoying to some. Trouble is, it works. However, where it works, it works really well and we all end up happy. Truly. This is because I focus on where people need to be with their work and their attitude to it. I focus on their focus and check that their focus is in the right place to achieve the very best. I help people produce their very best version of themselves.
I have struggled with many over the years yet some of the hardest nuts become my best supporters. Coaching is what I do and I don't mind the struggle. Some reading this have experienced that struggle and now enjoy "Happy Days". You have told me so. For others my suggestion is to please start taking the uncomplicated advice offered. I do meet resistance. I do meet defensiveness. Finally I can meet obstructive and defeatist people. They are all part of the rainbow of personalities that life throws up. Only the terminally defeatist and continuously obstructive cannot be helped. They have no focus. They don't see it that they need to change and stop being the person that is not attracting other people in sufficient quantities. A lot of us are just inexperienced and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Everyone starts somewhere and the talent you have is mainly already inside you. It just needs coaching out of you.
If you are not the best, and that's most of us, I suggest you shadow the best in your office if there is one ! Invariably they won't mind. It's only poor people who mind helping others sometimes. Shadow the best but don't be a pest is my advice. Also the 'best' comes in many forms in sales. You can still be the best in certain attributes even if not the best overall.
Sit next to the best if you can. Do observe how they are often very orderly in their own way. Very on the ball, very disciplined (maybe not with paperwork) on the phone in their own way and have perfected a certain methodology on the phone. That good performance is backed up usually by a great ear. They listen well.
Second is great delivery. The best have summed people up mentally as they go along. Often right, sometimes wrong. Percentage wise they win. They convert enough to make their style work for them. They accept that they don't win every call. By delivering the same level of excellence to each potential client they attract those who will place an order. That is consistency. Consistency in delivery is very important. Be the best every time when speaking and listening. That way you capture almost every opportunity. If there is no opportunity you move on. The best are quickest to spot the "no opportunity" and recognise it and move on. They can see where a potential client has disqualified himself.
Every call is won or lost. Either you persuade the potential client to do something or that same potential client or his gatekeeper persuade you they are not doing something. This is a simple and very true outcome. Write this down, seriously write it down and remember. Either you win or the potential client wins. No banana for second place. You can always learn from second place but you will never get the banana. A win is not necessarily an order of course. A win is a positive outcome, an advance in the process from before you made the call.
Remember this: Not everyone wants to even consider buying from you, the cold caller. They may have an existing relationship. They are happy to pay a little more for the great service they are currently receiving. They really don't want to talk to you to save a measly %. What you should be doing is attempting to be the nice guy and build the platform for the future. I have told every single person that buys into me that what you should be doing with happy people is position yourself for when their supplier drops the ball and they become unhappy. We all drop the ball, not just rugby players. I have done it and frankly if you have not done it you are from another planet. Or more simply, I do not believe you.
I always tell my clients that focus is their single best ally. It's the best word you can use in an interview . So, if you have focus tell your interviewer. In your work you focus on the next call all the time. If you focus on doing the next call to your best then your morning looks after itself. That way your day looks after itself and so on. This is exactly how to work. You need no other ideas on making the best use of your day on the phone. Focus.
Focus is all about the small stuff. Look after the small stuff as well as you can and watch the big picture of a great month unravel. Bring targets down to the immediate future. Have a target to fulfil in the morning. Again, it's that simple. Daydreaming on weekly and monthly targets is just that. Stop that stinking thinking and focus in the here and now.
Your target by the way is not a number of sales or meetings set. That is the outcome of doing the work and is a yardstick you are judged on . Your own personal target is calls made, time recorded being on the phone. That's what should be your target each day. Clearly you need good prospects to be calling and I am assuming that here. Doing the work and doing plenty of it is the key. Your target is to be busy, be industrious, make the calls and with the right enthusiasm and a smile on your face. These are the attributes of a focused worker.
When you consider all the opportunities you have to let yourself off the hook each day you will understand that focus on what needs to be done is the most important ingredient. If you cultivate this attitude everything else will follow. Percentage wise the focused salesperson will always win in the end. You cannot win everything and you will not expect to but you will steadily climb any ladders put up in front of you is my very experienced guess.
Final tip. Cold calling is like the spin of a roulette wheel. As long as the wheel itself is not fixed in favour of the casino your chance on winning anything remains the same from one spin to the next. Each new call is a new opportunity. Try hard not to be influenced by the past spins of the wheel this week. Keep an open mind on each new call. This is a hard hitting message and only because it's so important. My message is not to give you a hard time but rather to suggest you give yourself a bit of a hard time.
Crafting and delivering a script that will entice potential clients over the phone…
Those of you working with me and interested in getting your scripts correct will have my advice available to help you craft and deliver the best lines to entice your potential clients over the phone. You have to write them of course and then we can improve them as time goes by to deliver what you need in order to get positive responses! You need to be realistic on outcomes. You also need to be creative and draw in help from colleagues.
For those members of the wider business community reading this blog here are a couple of reasons for having a script and a few tips.
There is little you will hear on the radio or watch on TV that has not been scripted in some form, either completely or partially. Same thing for the theatre. So there is an enormous clue in there. Scripts work, good scripts work even better. Not having a script is like swerving around on a runaway horse.
Only a small number of companies are using a script for telesales and even less using a methodology for their teams to be delivering a concise and clear message that is truly consistent each time they deliver it and across the board. A good script leads to a commitment. Most people doing the same job in sales are seemingly selling something different to their colleagues ! It's not just what you sell it's how you promote it that draws in the clients. It's how you distinguish the features and benefits as the old story goes. Knowing when to push on with what you say and absolutely, and consistently, knowing when to shut up. The ability to shut up in sales is one of the top traits of the best in sales.
The most scripted sounding people are, not surprisingly, those who have no script who talk about not wanting to sound scripted ! They often, but not always, regurgitate the same amateur garbage presentation delivered at 100 miles an hour to everyone they speak to. They miss things out in every call. I hear it in offices across the land. They have made their own style up. Sometimes it works well but often it is poor in comparison to what should really be being conveyed across the board. They also miss the point that whilst they are overfamiliar with what they are saying it is usually the first time their prospect has heard it. A bit of a mismatch often occurs.
Old style sales companies, the names of which will be lost to most reading this, based their phenomenal sales success on scripts . (The most famous being NCR in America. The National Cash Register company). Yellow Pages would have been another, The Ford Motor company another. These were cornerstone companies in sales. Much of their fantastic methodology has been lost in the digital age. People buy from people, they always have. A point worth remembering.
Every unscripted call made will be full of garbage phrasing, pausing, umms and ahhs and when people ask questions they will reply with "well, to tell you the truth" or "to be honest". Don't take my word for it. Listen to this stuff in your own offices.
A script will give you flexibility. Your own garbage does not...
There is a pitching process that will be individual to each company. If you don't have that process you will be struggling. I give all my clients the process that we discuss and will most likely be the template for their future success on the phone. It's not usually straightforward and indeed does vary from one company to another even within the same industry.
Role play with a good friend at work is great. First thing in the morning. Role play with anyone in authority at your company is not going to work. Role play with me is not going to work either ! Only with a friend please. My website and every sinew of my body tells me to advise no role play with anyone you feel subservient to and are not on very good terms with. Not only does it not work it rapidly becomes counter-productive. This is my personal opinion.
Better than role play for most people is the following. It's the best free tip you will get for the telephone. When you have your killer script you need to practice it out loud in front of a mirror. If it does not sound right then it will not be right. Like an actor on stage in a play you have to keep practising until you get it right. Or at least you feel you have it right. It can always be modified once you have experience of using it. Always be listening in your calls for what works and what clearly might hit the buffers with potential clients.
Finally, please don't think you are too smart for a script. The smartest people I have ever known in sales have used scripts. Scripts for me are a no brainier but people without brains will rarely have a script. Try it, ask for advice and make it your own. You will not look back.
One of the best and easiest scripts to construct is a SKELETON where you list down the main points of your script in the shape of a fish bone and starting at the tail you work towards your eventual goal with script which is represented by the head. Draw the fish bone and add your key points. Using this will prevent you or the client meandering too much. This method is easy and completely works.
The above is just a simple guide to the subject. Getting it right will be one of the main challenges for any telephone sales team and any meeting making team.
This aspect of telesales is somewhat important so please don't ignore it…
Please don't read this tip and forget it. I am in touch with a lot of people who are picking up stuff from me and running with it. I hope that includes you.
If you are truly followers of my advice you will implement what I am advising. It is certainly NOT as easy as it seems. You need to make a real effort every single day to be a Top Smiler. Smiling we can all do outside of work. Getting the knack of this in work where there is often not much to smile about is a true challenge. Don't dismiss this challenge as something you "do all the time ". None of us do. I struggle sometimes. Yet I know it is what I should be maintaining. An easy smile makes my work so much easier. You will find this too.
Business owners and managers should take notice of this post and constantly urge good humour and smiling in the team. I see many, many business-like offices where, frankly, it's just all too serious. Sales is a contact sport and it is incumbent upon each of you to lighten up. A lightened-up salesperson is the professional way. It really is. Smile as you dial, as the old saying says.
Never frown, never be too professional, too formal or just too clever.
Many, many pieces of medical research point to smiling being the absolute deal maker in conversation and so it is in face to face sales and also telephone sales and making meetings. (Don't forget always make meetings do not set appointments). You make appointments with Doctors, Dentists and Lawyers. In business you should be arranging MEETINGS. I really hope none of you are still appointment making? Arggggghhh!! Ask people for a meeting, stop being so formal.
Studies have repeatedly shown that smiling or frowning can make people feel happier and more anxious respectively. The secret of smiling is perhaps that it helps people relax. That is, it helps you and the client to relax. Consciously trying to 'relax' never really works although we all tell each other to relax. The thing with smiling is that when you really practice it and do it then, of course, you end up relaxing. Being relaxed is, in my book, the easier way to get your sales and set your meetings. This is true no matter how many brochures, facts and figures you have. You win with a smile.
How prepared and agile are you for your daily work on the telephone…
Use this daily checklist to keep you on track and on your toes…
1. When you come to work in the morning are you ready as an actor would be to go on stage? Or are you recovering from the night before? Or are you distracted by all the things going on in your life and not really connected to your day at the office? Attitude is the most important key indicator to telesales performance.
2. Do you sit up at your desk or do you slump into it and remain crumpled for most of the day? Posture and agility are indicators to performance
3. Are you even dressed as a successful person or sitting there with weekend clothes on, even a coat or baseball cap on? Dress and smartness is a key indicator to performance. Shoes or trainers? You decide but you know the answer. I have never known anyone who wears a coat in an office to survive more than a couple of weeks. Be warned. Dress properly for work.
4. Whatever time your day starts are you ready to start? Think of athletes toning up their muscles for the race ahead. Or is your desk a mess full of food, handbags, shopping and open social media? Preparedness is a key indicator to performance. Get to work early, please don't be the one rushing in with a minute to spare. People who do this consistently do it and it's a real sign that you don't even want to be there. Stop that behaviour now.
5. Do you have a morning meeting where the team discuss the order of the day and important strategies to be followed and generally encourage each other forwards? A meeting ensuring everyone is ready to give their best is an empowering part of daily preparation for phone work. Get one going even if you have to ask the boss to instigate it. It is one of the bigger indicators to a good day ahead. Everyone comes in ready and on time for the meeting.
6. Are you geared up to reply to emails with phone calls? Do you have any real idea how much more powerful a call is than email? Are you seriously looking at email and working out the best strategy and timing of a call back to advance this sale or appointment? Thinking straight is a key indicator to performance. Simply keeping the ping-pong of email going is the pits in a telephone sales office. Get some action going.
7. Is your head clear, is your voice clear, are your eyes and body alert for the mental gymnastics you will be doing for the day? If you are not in tune then snap out of that mood and really focus on your job please. Do not indulge in any negative gossip. Avoid the bad apple in the team and if you are the bad apple do please try and grow up. Otherwise you will be hitting the exit quickly in a well run office.
8. Check your enthusiasm. That's like a driver checking they have fuel and oil in the tank before setting off on a journey. Are you seriously geared up for that first call so that you hit the ground running and jump all the fences and maximise every opportunity thrown your way right from that first encounter with a new company, new lead, new person, new problem. Your golden client, the cornerstone of your month could be that first person you call today.
9. Are you in tune with your call backs and when and how they should be made? Have you encouraged all your potential clients to call you back and are you diarising them to call back especially where they have not taken your hint to call you back. A key element in all calls is to attempt to get the recipient to call you back. Ask around, ask me about this. It is a dynamite strategy.
10. The seat you occupy is valuable to the company. More and more companies are focusing on the value of the seat rather than the person occupying it. Be very careful and very mindful to stick to the suggestions given above. Continued employment is dependent upon results these days not who you are or what you say you know. It's all about results. Use the above as a template for the start of your day and generally you will have more success, more luck, more results and more income.
These ideas are not for you to be defensive about. They are what I learned to be essential and personal to longevity in a telephone sales office seat. Just turning up and shooting from the hip or turning up and not picking up the phone with expertise and enthusiasm will guarantee the loss of your seat at some point. Be the man or woman who gets it where what is required is provided by you each day. Be very competent.
Final point. Curries, heavy drinking etc and anything else that induce sickies are not allowed between Sunday and Thursday nights. Get yourself to work on time as if your job depended on it. And be very fit for the work. Passengers on your bus will be easily spotted.
None of the above check list is difficult. You know this and I know this. Just be professional and do it. I am often either thanked for this advice or totally ignored. The people who thank me are usually still in the job six months later. It's your choice.
Success is not out of reach due to lack of time or the right sales training tips…
The challenge you have when you decide to improve your results is NOT that there isn't information available to you that would help your progress—and quickly. There are more than enough sales training tips and information, and every resource you need to know about for sales. Most is already well known and published many times over. If a lack of information was your obstacle, it would easily be overcome. The Internet has every sales training tip known to man on it. Every single tip is within your grasp already. How to use those tips is where coaching comes in and having a good coach is important. It's important for education, for style, for content, for serious financial benefit and for the good growth in your company. Selling without a coach on board is like sailing without a rudder. That's where I like to think professional sales training with Simon Kenna comes in.
The results you want are not out of reach because you say you don’t have time to achieve them. All you have is time. Nothing has changed in centuries. Everyone has the same amount if time, it's the one thing we share. It does not matter how wealthy or poor you are we all share the same time. Big people, small people, male or female, young or old...we all have the same time.
Time is all anyone has, not just you...
That's a very simple concept. Not having time is an attitude you may have to what needs to be done to achieve your goals. Not having time is the oldest and weakest excuse in sales. You make time and you use time effectively and it's a constant challenge. Prioritising your time, making time, having time, call it what you will.
What you do with your time is a decision that only you make. It doesn’t matter where you are now or where you want to go. You have the time to accomplish much, much more than you believe possible. Did Shakespeare have time? Did Michelangelo have time? Has Stephen Hawking got time? All of you have time. In sales, what is not acceptable is knowingly not making time to prospect, to cold call and to really get to grips with new business and new clients. Way too much focus is placed on doing 'stuff' and focusing on servicing existing clients...all too easy. Researching leads should be a criminal offence when it takes all day and doing this instead of mainly making calls in that time. Clean data lists that have been TPS checked and updated data must be done as well as research for leads in your time if the company process allows it. Researching people to call is homework. When you are at work you need to be making money. That means making calls. Do a stack of homework, don't overdo it but cut out one hour an evening or early morning instead of some other activity. That behaviour separates out the winners. If you are not on commission or a sales bonus then that last part does not apply.
The distance between where you are now and the results that you want are also not likely the result of your inability to do what is necessary. It is almost a certainty that you can do what you would need to do to have what you want, if only you had the time!
What prevents you from having what you want? What's the real answer? Is it really time or is it this…
The comfort zone...
The answer is an unwillingness to do what is necessary to have what you want out of your sales funnel. That unwillingness often comes from the strong desire to seek comfort over discomfort. Even if you have the information, the time, and the ability, the pull of what is comfortable drags you right back to doing what you’ve always done. It’s familiar, it’s easy, and it requires little effort—and all without the discomfort that goes hand in hand with growth. Stop right here and re-read this three times. It is the truest thing you will read about salespeople. It is also the truest observation I know of people in general where lack of achievement is concerned.
What should make you uncomfortable is being comfortable. The real danger isn’t in failing, losing, or taking more time than you expected to produce the result you want. The real danger is slipping back into what is familiar, and in doing so, producing a result that is far less than you are capable of and living with the regret of not becoming the person who comes after the one that is reading this article. I defy anyone who knows sales and salesmen to tell me there is any single word in this synopsis that is not 100% correct. I meet a lot of comfortable people, I really do. Successful sales people are edgy, always looking for the advantage but maintaining an excellent status quo with clients and prospects.
My pet theory on time...
The most common excuse for everyone in the 21st Century is not having enough time. But time is here and it is here now. We all have plenty of time but how we use it is the issue. Claiming not to have time is something all your clients will be telling you, you will be telling your boss, your boss will be telling me and I will be telling my dog Dennis when he wants a good long walk. Time has simply turned into an excuse. Please see it as that when people say this to you. It means you are not important enough, that is all it means in the 21st Century. So, you have to make a strong enough case for people to give you some of their precious time.
There are a host of reasons there is no time in an office. It's too dull and meaningless to list them. What you need to do though is prioritise phone time. Get off the computer inbox for 90 minute bursts for undistracted phone time and watch your results grow. For a telephone conversation, you do not need three screens open in front of you. To focus properly on the call, you need none. You need to focus though, really zoom in. Be prepared with several calls to make.
I have said it before but lack of time and saying you don't have time for certain aspects of work is a reworking of the school story when homework was not done. "The dog ate my homework" was a common excuse. That is what we must all conquer now with the process of getting ourselves out of our comfort zones to do what we must do to get new business from new clients and not rely on new business from existing clients. Bottom line is not to use time as your excuse and not to let others off the hook with their "no time issues" I am a serious believer in the very old saying "If you want something done then ask a busy person". Say that to your busy clients and you will get better results. Stay with the genuinely busy people over the daydreamers because they will get things done. Put my thoughts into action over just 4 weeks and you guarantee yourself more business.
In America, Brooklyn Bridge took 14 years to build, starting in 1870…
The reason it took so long, was mainly because the fundamentals of suspension bridge building of this width were discovered as the bridge was built. Talk about on the job learning! The engineers concerned in this building job had to make a plan as they went along as almost everything was new. All these fundamental principles and plans were then taught to others in Engineering schools. Following the building of Brooklyn Suspension Bridge others much longer were completed in less time for example the fantastic Golden Gate Bridge was completed in just 4 years in 1930.
For well over a hundred years’ methodology in sales has been developed and then passed on through the years. We now have fundamental rules and principals as well as plans for campaigns. Learning curves are shortened to eliminate pet ideas and silly notions that individuals have about themselves being smarter than the fundamentals that are honed over time. All experience is ditched if a salesman thinks he knows better about all the answers and can blag his way to success with a freewheeling and undisciplined approach. Well the following few words will dispel this notion.
I advise people to use scripts. All the best campaigns in American and some British telephone sales history have been based on teams using scripts and yet not sounding scripted. My personal favourite is for teams to use skeleton scripts with one line for each paragraph in progression to make sure you have a script to bring yourself and the clients back to. It stops us from meandering down our own dark valley of pet ideas and inconsequential bumblings. I know all this because I am describing how I and millions of others started in telephone sales. We get that first job, sometimes that first few jobs of work and then we are given a chance. Sound familiar? We then ad-lib our way through a few months before the exit door beckons and we are onto the next gig.
Imagine if plays on a stage worked with everyone ad-libbing Shakespeare for example. Chaos would ensue and poor productions, dismayed audiences and no long term box office receipts. That is the dark side of telephone sales for you. The Golden Gate Bridge would never have been built in 4 years if it were not for the building and learning from the Brooklyn bridge.
For the best in telephone sales the penny drops and you construct a script or skeleton from the product or service moving the accepted fundamentals of scripting a successful and progressive way of proceeding to netting the order and fulfilling it to the client's satisfaction and your company's profit.
Teams are always looking to improve but only a tiny % in the UK will be using skeleton or any other form of script. That is how plenty of the first suspension bridges collapsed. No principals, no fundamentals, no plans, no learning. Just winging the process through thin air! So, get a script and become more professional and more successful. Build your own Golden Gate Bridge.
How you nail cold calling just by changing your approach and how you think…
If you have any form of the words SALES, TELEPHONE or APPOINTMENT MAKING in your job title can I suggest you print this off. These cold calling tips are a mini blueprint of what you need in your brain-box to approach selling over the phone with the right attitudes...
WHY ATTITUDE IS KING ON THE PHONE
You can have all your ducks in a row: the best leads, the best digital telephone system with call recording, the most new fangled CRM system with flashing dashboard and alarm signals, the best script (How many of you even have a script?), the best products, the company with the best customer service, the company where integrity is top of the list for employees but if your telephone sales team have a so-so attitude or worse a "don't care enough" attitude you sink. The whole ship sinks, slowly or quickly but it sinks nonetheless. In most companies, sales is what it’s all about. Nobody else needs employing unless your company has sales. That’s how important it is.
Changing people, changing managers and changing scripts isn't going to cut it. You need to only employ people with a great attitude. As an employee if you lack a great and consistent attitude to your work get out of telephone sales and appointment making. Its seriously not for you. Here are some headline attributes and maybe tips for successful telesales staff:
In sales terms when you have integrity you believe in yourself and your company and you very much believe in what you are selling. You cannot "fake" integrity. Who you are as a person will always speak louder than what you say. Think about this and think about achieving success through being this person. The best person in your sales team will also be the most authentic. Every time. Being the best version of yourself is all that you need to aim for, frankly it’s all that you can aim for.
Until challenged about it we often think we are doing our best, me included. Our competitor's efforts in a cold calling team should give us the impetus to be better ourselves. If not we are in the wrong place and we know it. Through competition we discover reserves we didn't know we even had. Even though we finish just out of the winners’ enclosure we may still be producing our personal best, and that is what competition is all about. Getting to our personal best. Being the best each day that we can be. Not letting ourselves off the hook.
You will be as successful as you decide to be. It’s very tempting to talk about what others (Your company, your boss, your CRM system and your colleagues, your leads, your outside of work life) should be doing or should have done. Start now by viewing everything from the inside outwards instead of the outside inwards. In the end failure in telesales and in all things is self-inflicted and success is self-bestowed. That’s not a hard concept to figure out or a difficult cold calling technique to take on board. You decide (as I used to) on your success levels and don't rely on others or blame others. Sooner or later in life you get to realise that its only you in the driving seat.
Staying busy will give you an enormous boost each day. If you are in telephone sales and appointment making it is essential that you’re staying busy is on the phone. It's not email folks. Email is for back up. Sales and appointments are cut on the phone. Do what I advise about being busy and you will feel better about yourself each day you are at work. Don't be busy with email all day, seriously snap out of it. That's known as placing hope over reality. You keep checking emails for that elusive order? The phone is your reality.
KEEP YOUR ATTITUDE AT A HIGHER LEVEL THAN YOUR KNOWLEDGE
This cold calling tip will never let you down. When we begin a new project our attitude should, and usually is, invariably above our skill level. Keep it that way is my advice. As soon as you become complacent in attitude your performance level drops automatically. Always keep your attitude above your knowledge level and always keep your knowledge level as high as you can!
This is not the article to talk about homework but none of you will ever have passed an exam without doing homework. Take your company catalogue home with you and also know your company and its website backwards. That's also attitude related when you think about it. EVEN IF YOUR JOB IS PART TIME take the time to do some homework. This not only shows pride in yourself and your work but it will make you more successful and probably earn you more money.
BREAK OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Put simply this means pushing yourself constantly past what you have done in the past. Train your mind to think how things CAN be done not thinking "Here's why that won't work". For some of you this is my biggest tip in this article. Give yourselves a real shake as you know you can do better. I know you can do better, your boss knows you can do better, your colleagues know you can do better. You also know you can be better.
REJECTION IS PART OF THE JOB
At least 80% of your working day can be perceived as being in the rejection pond. Really? Look at it that way and you are doomed. Forget the perceived rejection and focus on incrementally increasing your success levels. Rejection is when someone turns down your proposal of marriage. In sales terms people are suggesting you are not the right fit or someone else is a better fit for their requirements at this time. That is not the same thing. Taking so-called rejection in business personally means you have completely the wrong mindset for sales. Potential clients don't even know you from a bar of soap as our Australian cousins would say. If you are wallowing in rejection you need to be on the first bus out of sales is my tip.
A GUN AT YOUR TEMPLE ANYONE?
Since quite early in my career I was always informed that my performance would improve if there was a loaded gun pointed at my temple. I am not sure that would work but figuratively speaking it is a good metaphor. In terms of attitude we can all improve the personal drive and focus we put into our work. Done sufficiently we raise ourselves well beyond where we are today without that revolver idea being implemented in the office.
When in telesales in all its many variations from customer service through to one call closing you will consistently get out of your calls a ratio directly related to the effort and amount of yourself that you put in. There is no other baseline answer than attitude.
I would like to focus here on SHUTTING UP…a much overlooked skill…
When I speak to those in my care for telephone sales help there are often several instances where you are on a roll with feedback which in itself is good. However, it is not so good being on a roll with clients as you pitch them your products and services.
I sometimes have to stop everyone several times just to get a word in by way of an answer to a point raised before the next one comes crashing through like a wave onto a beach. You need to mentally and physically train yourselves to make a point and then shut up. You are awaiting that first point sinking in and there should be a reply from the other person. Instead the steam engine just barrels along with more "stuff". When you just keep talking in a pitch you are often harming your chances. Like horses jumping fences in a race you have to clear one fence at a time and do so with a clean pair of heels. We are all guilty of talking too much in pitches, so does this apply toy you? It surely applies to you and to me in equal measure. It applies to everyone. We all sometimes talk past the point at which what we say is effective. Learn to pause, learn to shut up. You will get more sales not less.
Not shutting up happens for one main reason in a pitch. That is the fear that you will get an objection. You have to welcome the objections and not try and bluff your way through the other person by continuing to talk over them. Understand this: The reason you keep talking is not to impart more selling points its simply avoidance of questions by the potential client. Once you own up to this you can seriously do something about it. Products and services are sold by dealing with objections not by taking a bat to the prospect with a very long monologue. The proof of this is in listening to our own voices being played back in recordings of our calls. Listen to yourself and you will hear the clattering sound of hooves as you talk over any possible lull in your one monologue. Take note of this and watch your numbers increase and your conversions. Shutting up is a very powerful skill and usually practised only by the most confident in a team.
If you get this one point and nothing else from me my job will be done. More sales are lost by salespeople being boy racers with their pitch than everything else that is poor about a pitch put together. Think about it, is this you? Of course it is. It's all of us in sales. We need to be reminded to shut up. A suggestion I always like giving is for salespeople to shut up at almost every opportunity given to them! Try it and watch your conversions improve. It takes confidence and the ability to answer questions and objections which is what shutting up is all about. People in sales talk about closing the sale all the time. Shutting up often leads to that magic phrase from your potential client. What happens next or maybe How does this work? Both these statements will mean, barring sheer idiocy on your part (!) you have a new client. Often achieved by simply shutting up.
I came across this great placard (below) inside an Antiques shop in an Essex village at the weekend…
I am here in Essex to conduct some sales coaching this week in a nearby town and I am combining a weekend away with the work aspect of my trip.
I am here in Essex to conduct some sales coaching this week in a nearby town and I am combining a weekend away with the work aspect of my trip.
The antique shop owner was able to tell me that the reason for this sign is the number of dealers she has visiting her. They typically go straight for the discount telling her "You have £75 on that item's ticket so how about 40?" She is fed up with it.
Her explanation is that much of what she sells is on commission for others and any discounts come off her part of the profit in her eyes. Because the nation is now programmed by TV to ask for discounts everywhere, this is why it happens. Antique shops bring this dilemma upon themselves is my opinion.
Part of her problem is having been seen on TV four times in two years for a particular Antiques show where she does give genuine discounts live for the show. The reason being it's a TV show and there would be no story if the hero presenter was not seen haggling in the shops. Her pay-off is the immense publicity being on National TV brings. But she doesn't want to extend her largesse in discounting to the general public in real life. I think it is a great sign, see below.
In your own businesses here you are telephone selling products and services you will get many, many buyers who haggle because they have been taught to or they only buy on price because they think that's all there is to it . Or worse, they want you to think that's all there is to it. Sometimes you offer a discount to a small buyer and then you still get the run around and no order. Heartbreaking stuff on the telephone. My advice is to stick to your guns and do not discount that first order.
Deliberately building in a discount margin is something many companies do when selling by phone do when selling by phone. My advice is not for them or that type of sale so take note if your company does that deliberately. It has its pluses and minuses but it's not in the scope of what I am saying here.
My advice is for companies and staff who have a large number of clients paying at a certain price and quite a few potential new clients attempting to chisel them down. The advice and the tip is to stick to your guns. Tell people straight up that you have X number of clients paying your price, whatever that is, and that these clients see your company as providing good value and good service at that price. If you have market leaders buying at that price mention that too. But then shut up. Shut up completely. That's my tip in this message…you have found it!!
Don't beg for the order and do not discount no matter what weasel tricks are played. As soon as you become a discounter your life changes and you are a soft touch for ever and ever. (That's a rough translation of an old Chinese proverb).
Finally I will give you the greatest quotation on discounting that I have read:
"It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you'll have enough to pay for something better." John Ruskin (1819-1900)
P.S. The postscript to this story is good. I spoke to this lady for fully ten minutes about this sign she had written and how much I liked it. Then I looked around the store and saw a seascape painting in a very good frame that I really liked. I carried on looking and noticed that she ran a tea garden as well at the back. It has been a quiet Sunday so I had a coffee and then she came out and showed me the extension to her garden which had a £1 charge for charity, so no problem with that and we chatted away for a further 5-10 minutes until she was called away. I returned to the shop and took the picture from the wall and eventually she came over to me. What had been marked up as a £35 picture ended up wrapped up very well and placed in a good carrying bag for £25. That's a 30% discount! So, never believe what you read on a sign! I did not say a word. I promise you all. I just looked at the picture and she looked at the picture…she looked at the price tag and started talking, and talking and talked herself into offering me the picture at the price above. It was interesting and, of course, would not work every time even if you planned it. I am just quite used to shutting up to get a sale and also shutting up when being sold to. Saying less often brings you much more it seems.
The learning being: Give people what they want and be courteous when you are selling and be very complimentary where you can be and be courteous without being obsequious when buying. In selling, the way to get what you want is to give the buyer what he wants but at your price. In buying just shut up. That way....the seller gets what they think they want and you get what you want without always paying full price and without having to do any haggling. That last piece of advice takes a bit of mastering, but when you manage it on a Sunday afternoon you can go home and blog about it.
Advice there for being both a seller and a buyer!