Mistakes we make around voicemail in telesales and the problems that ensue...
A few thoughts for you on voicemail. The problem is you are all being a bit too lazy. We can all be this way and here is the answer or a good part of it.
If you imagine an old style hotel reception desk with a huge box of compartments in a big unit behind the check-in desk. That is traditionally where messages went and keys were kept for guests before telephones in rooms were introduced. If you are too young to remember then you will certainly have seen them in films. That was the equivalent of today's voicemail. Messages came in and was put in the box. It was picked up when the guest next came for his key and was either read and acted upon or read and discarded.
Same with your voicemail messages!
You are new to the client's and sometimes to the work and like me you are playing the short game first. The short game is phoning Ms or Mr Big or the name in front of you a few times and hoping to get through and make an advance. That is assuredly the short game and has some quick wins and many dead ends no matter how good your message. But ultimately it is the lazy game...as many calls go no further than voicemail where you either hang up or leave a message and 95% will not reply if it is a new business call.
It’s not working with most. That's just the way it is. It works with some but not most. So you give up or you get frustrated with a less than 5 % strike rate. Right?
The mistake we make is then continuing playing the short game. We just keep playing the short game, making those calls back to the voicemail machine like leaving messages in the hotel lobby for someone who is just not going to reply. And, with ever increasing frustration. Voicemail is now a screening device for most in many companies, they just are not going to pick up and we keep dialling like robots and simply waste our own time. The Big Boss just don’t care enough about you buddy! He really doesn't care how extra-screwy your screws are. He wants a quiet life.
So, stop and re-group. Stop the short game when it fails and start the long game. The long game is getting the receptionist to help you. How you do this Is for you to work out a strategy and run it past me. I do not do that for you. But you need to work out the best way through either to Ms or Mr Big's assistant or their PA or someone in their department. See this as a game of snakes and ladders. You need ladders not snakes. Gatekeepers are often snakes but some will certainly provide you with a ladder.
Stop the endless voicemail block. Only you can do this. Get some real enthusiasm going and call that receptionist back, every time and say you are getting nowhere with voicemail and enlist her help. A word of warning: Historically Gatekeepers are very much better at their job than we as salespeople are at ours. Don't try and trick them, don't be dishonest, enlist their help and do not antagonise them. You will be the richer for following this advice. On a percentage basis, the above method works better than any other voicemail strategy. It really does, so just do it and keep a record of your successes.
Figuring out what the problem is and how to change it...
Confidence in the field of telesales and telephone selling, even appointment making, has long been an issue for most practitioners of both. Sales managers and business owners all scratch their heads in dismay when looking at sales figures. Managing directors bemoan the lack of appointments made for sales reps out in the field. Everyone looks at confidence and ultimately everyone sees the problem as a lack of confidence on the telephone by all concerned.
Are they right or wrong? In my opinion they are assuredly and supremely right. 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.
I ask everyone to take themselves back to their education. In every case if examinations and University degrees have been passed it is mainly due to the pupils and undergraduates having done many, many hours work at home. It was called "homework" at school and we all did it.
However 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 work time. Home-time is playtime these days, yes almost universally in sales home-time is just play time on all the modern gadgets and going out on the town with our mates at every opportunity. Really?
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 your own homework done at home just the same as you did at school. I am referring to the company website. You learn it backwards. I am referring to product knowledge and any pictures, any handbooks that your company has. You learn them backwards. Industry journals, White papers, your competitions websites and products. All these things are the key to your success with regard to confidence. Please stop blaming others 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 on a very regular basis.
The answer for all of us is to become experts and very much in our own time not our employers 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. You will thank me one day for this advice, although that day is hardly going to be today!
Understanding who is the most important person you speak to on the telephone...
In sales, we are all making a variety of calls to new and existing clients in the hope of generating some new business from existing clients or building some important bridges to gaining elusive new clients. Telephone Sales is 80% persistence and 20% talent not the other way round. Relying on luck and the "numbers game" is a quick route to being very poor in sales. Preparation mentally and physically before you pick up the phone is essential.
Our job satisfaction and income really comes from getting our personality package across in such a way that we draw new business clients towards us. The techniques employed are always as old as the hills. There is nothing new, but it's how we employ those techniques and how we drive ourselves forward each day that makes us reach the winners enclosure. Success is pretty much in your head and your hands. Going through the boring motions each day is where you each need to give yourself an electric shock if you are simply doing this.
There is nothing new in the art of persuasion though many will tell you something different in order to get you as their customer for a sales seminar! I can guarantee you that there are no new telephone sales techniques that I know of in the past 30 years. How you use the existing techniques and really make progress can be taught and this is what I do. The techniques are all out there. What is new is technology not the methods of persuasion. You will not find books on persuasion telling you that it's a new science. Persuasion and salesmanship are as old as time itself, nothing new here folks. So you have to focus on the "How" of delivery of these techniques.
So, back to my question, who really is the most important person you speak to each week? That is the Magic question. Is it a managing director of a large company, the purchasing officer of a group of companies, sales directors, marketing directors, sales managers, specifies or secretaries to any of the above or any number of new job titles that have been created over the recent years and beyond? Who really is the most important person you speak to?
The answer should surprise you as it's none of the above. The most important person you speak to every day, and every week is not necessarily the one with the big job title. At the end of each day we are all just people and go home to our lives. We cease to be important people outside our own sphere of influence. So again, who is the most important person we speak to every day and every week?
It was not a trick question. The most important person you will ever speak to when trying to make your sales call is the person you are currently speaking to. Makes such simple sense once you grasp the concept, doesn't it?
If you make that person feel they are the most important person you are speaking to this week they become empowered and in turn will generally and statistically help you. No need for 'getting past the gatekeeper' techniques and no need for lies, obfuscation, fakery of your importance or the importance of the call. You simply make people feel that they are very important and valuable to you. You respect them, you are courteous to them, you do not dismiss what they say, you listen closely and quietly to what they say and you do not try to walk all over them. Each time you speak to them you follow the same pattern of courtesy. You will be in a tiny minority of people selling that will be doing this. The results will astound you.
The pressure and Hubble-bubble of an office and a sales team will often make us rush our calls with impatience and that is a major roadblock to avoid. Most salespeople on the phone are simply their own worst enemy. It's not the clients, it's not the gatekeeper, it's not the leads and it's not your boss. It's you buddy just like it’s me and always was. We are often the biggest hindrance to our own successful outcomes. So wise up is my advice. You need to shift your behaviour on the phone towards being the nice guy and not the steamroller, not the faker, and not the person nobody wants to engage with.
You won't win them all, by any means, but you will hit your percentage of successful calls that means you hit your target on getting through to Mr or Ms Big and if you follow the same behaviour with them....be courteous and make him or her feel important without you yourself becoming creepy and obsequious.
Look that word up if you don't know it! Obsequious describes the worst sort of salesperson. There are several varieties of the worst sort of salesperson, more on that another day, but this is one of them. Don't be that person.
Stick to the advice given above every day and you will surprise even yourself. There is a knack to this and you will have to work at it very hard to perfect it but all of us can do it. Make the person you are currently speaking to feel like they are the most important person you are speaking to this week.
Cultivating and developing your approach on a personal level...
1. We all tell ourselves a story that allows us to be the person we are. This is true when you sell or make appointments on the phone. Be careful how you follow the script in your head. If you expect success it will come and if you expect failure you will normally fail. Don't start work without a very good story in your head. Develop the winner’s mentality.
2. Perseverance in sales will beat ability and talent every time. Persevering people are the ones who never give up. It's the same with telephone sales. Those that make the high numbers of calls and persevere with perfecting their script will always be more successful than those who think ability and talent mean business will come to them easily.
3. Find the best person in your team and make it your business to be close to them. Most successful people do not mind sharing their expertise with others, particularly new people. Be polite, do not be a pest, but do soak up the story that person is telling themselves and their potential customers. It will work out very well indeed if you are a good listener.
4. A deal is never a deal until the money is in the bank. The old saying of not counting your chickens before they hatch is true in telesales. Keep doing your job, keep tying up loose ends right to the end. Never assume anything. Get order numbers, written confirmation, recordings of all transactions. Stay on the case until the job is completely nailed down.
5. Record your calls. Hopefully your company has a call recording system and you should listen to yourself, particularly on tricky calls. Work out where you should have paused and shut up. Work out where it went wrong and learn from this. It works better than most systems I know for best practice in telesales. Simple: Listen and learn from yourself.
6. (Your bonus tip for reading this far). Always, always, always be courteous to people. No matter how grumpy they are, be courteous in telesales and appointment making. You will stay in sales much longer and much more successfully if you just follow this one rule in every call you make. Be courteous, be honest and never try to sneak round people.
The best opening line is one created by you and about you...
Have you ever noticed how dogs respond to the way we talk to them more strongly than they respond to the words we use when talking to them? That's because they don't know many words, they know sounds and they know intonation and they know volume. They like nice sounds and gentle voices, and they like biscuits of course.
When you speak to your dog at fever pitch it doesn't actually matter what you are saying, it really does not. All you are doing is frightening your dog and anyone else that is around at the time.
Contrast that to when you are gentle and respectful of your dog. Again it really doesn't matter what you are saying as the words don't count. Your dog is responding to the style and intonation and gentleness of your voice. Or to the eagerness of your voice when you are trying to persuade him to do something. At no time does shouting or talking fast get the desired result.
Dogs are smart. Smarter than people much of the time. So learn something here. If you want anyone's attention try not to frighten them or upset them with your loud, booming voice. Keep a lid on the volume and talk steadily and gently raising your voice towards the end of the sentence if you are looking for agreement or simply trying to persuade someone to your way of thinking.
This method of communication works out well and it works out consistently. Your dog knows this.
The point of this post is to give you the best opening line and in case it's not already clear here is my summary of what that is : The best line you can use is your own words, short and precise, maybe two sentences ending with a question mark. The professionalism is in the delivery and tonal approach, which should be in such a gentle way that even your dog would smile, understand and respect you. Don't overwhelm your prospect (or your dog) with loudness, jargon, or a series of requests. Just one request couched in one sentence and a call to action from your prospect (or dog).
The detail of this tip is not so much in what you say, though that is vitally important, but in how you say it, how long it takes you to say it, your tone of voice and your intonation at the end of the second sentence which needs to rise up sweetly in expectation of a good response. Practice this daily in front of a mirror as an actor would. The results usually include far better communication with your potential client, every single time. A by-product of this method is that even if they don't feel they have a requirement from you it will be hard for them to be totally dismissive which is what none of us like.
This is one of the strongest innovative tips you will get in sales and do try and engage with me on this. I have made my living from employing this process for a very long time when speaking to new people. It works. It works even better if you throw your body and soul into being the guy or girl your prospect likes and wants to answer. Practice, practice, practice...
How to become more successful at achieving telesales appointments...
This is not a hard article for me to write because it's my strongly held view that company owners have to be the sales leader and that means training yourself up. Being a sales leader means having really done the job yourself so that's the basic training.
The rules that follow are not exclusive. There will be others more specific to what you are doing. But in general terms, if you follow the guidelines given below, you will almost instantly become more successful at making appointments over the phone for visits to potential customers. The rules are given in no particular order, since all of them are equally important.
1st rule: Don't try too hard! It's essential to relax into appointment making. There should be no hustling and generally no sense of urgency. In particular there should be no fear in your voice. If you are under pressure from your own boss when making these calls, fear in your voice will transmit to the client and they will back off. However, the bottom line is that you don't actually need every call to turn into an appointment. You are working on a percentage basis, so you only need a certain percentage of your calls to be successful for you yourself to be seen as successful. You need to come across as if you are offering something positive by merely suggesting an appointment. Never sound desperate. Instead remain cool and relaxed. In this way you will set meetings that stick.
2nd rule: ‘Others love it…’ - whatever 'it' may be. Make comparisons with those who have already tried your company's product or service; i.e. people who have agreed to an appointment and have really benefited from subsequently talking face-to-face to someone from your company. This is the most powerful, non-tangible way of convincing people to make a commitment. If they feel others have walked the same path, it makes them feel so much more secure about agreeing to such a course of action for themselves and to feeling comfortable and at ease about it.
3rd rule: Disqualify time-wasters. This is a tricky one, as it is sometimes hard to determine who is ultimately likely to waste your company's time. Listen for clues. These will reside in people who reveal a) that they have no money; b) that they are not the ultimate decision- maker; c) that they genuinely have no need for the product or service but just seem to like meeting people - and so on. Don't make unsubstantiated appointments. Make sure the meetings set rest on very solid foundations If you don’t, they are likely to lead to nothing, will earn you a bad reputation and will also end up wasting the time of another member of your company, which is unlikely to make you popular amongst your colleagues.
4th rule: If you have someone who seems a genuinely hot prospect, then the suggestion ‘why would you not want to see me’ tends to work very well, providing it’s delivered circumspectly. Without being too obvious, you can easily make the prospect feel that you and your company are actually doing them a favour by offering to come and see them. Whilst it takes plenty of determination and practice to make it work well, this can become a top technique in your repertoire.
5th rule: Your goal should be to help others rather than yourself. Whatever call you make, try to see the conversation from the potential client's point of view as opposed to a means of you personally hitting targets. The former works perfectly in every situation whilst the latter tends to be a failure in waiting. Put yourself in your client's shoes as quickly as you can as the conversation progresses. The emphasis in good appointment-making should be on conversation and dialogue, not simply a relentless pitch aimed at optimum results for yourself.
The above ideas may appear obvious in theory but are considerably harder to put into everyday practice. Start by making your primary aim not to convert every single call into an appointment. As I’ve said, you only ever need to achieve a certain percentage of success from a series of calls. So never focus on a single call being a boom-or-bust situation - because it rarely will be. And reacting as if it is - slamming the phone down after an unsuccessful attempt, for example - is the quickest way to burn yourself out in this line of work.
Following the above five rules will deliver tangible results. Do not allow yourself to be carried away, though. Stay calm and persuasive at all times. It's very easy for initial success to make one over-confident, so rein yourself in. Remain calm and quietly persuasive at all times. And keep my list close at hand for several months until the correct process is fully ingrained in your daily performance.
How your telephone sales coaching practices should be changing every year...
The needs for telephone sales training and coaching change every year. Standards tend to slip incrementally unless you are particularly watchful and organised – this is a universal fact of business life. Telesales departments are often run simply on KPI returns, with actions taken to announce those figures. Madness.
Technology such as CRM systems, plus all manner of other reporting devices and clever technical advances, are interesting and can often change things for the better. However, year after year the bottom line is that those operating and working in telephone sales, from small companies to large call centres, see standards decline as soon as coaching stops and training is left off the menu. Giving people all-singing-all-dancing computer dashboard screens never helps them sell better because it never helps them realise that it is time spent on the phone itself which counts. The phone miles help you to your destination, since this is what leads to quality sales and relationships with solid clients.
Most training and development can be summed as a few hours or days listening to others, then later being hammered with KPI results. Then it's the bells and whistles of dashboards and the micro-management of figures, which everyone seems to love these days but which rarely lead to an improvement in basic traits and performance.
So when I say that telephone sales’ training requirements change, what I really mean is that the telephone sales’ training itself needs to change. It should revert to what actually makes a difference in performance, rather than continuing to update and fine-tune the reporting process. This advice may be the most significant you get this year or next. Either go back to coaching your team effectively or start coaching your team in what it really takes to get the sales figures up.
KPI-led sales coaching is as much use as a chocolate fireguard. Simply telling staff to improve figures does not work. Telephone sales’ coaching is a real skill and can only be passed on effectively by those with a lifetime of professional experience in the front line of making cold calls, making appointments, opening accounts and closing big deals.
So ask yourself why it's important to work smartly as opposed to maintaining a dogged commitment to a sales KPI process which allows 60%+ plus of the working day of staff to be spent scrolling through screens, emailing and reading emails, researching leads or any other unproductive activities. Instead, to make 2017/2018 your team's year, try getting in touch with an authentic, time-serving coach and get your team truly up to speed in what's important in the life of a telephone sales team.
You may have typed that description into Google at some point...
Perhaps searching in Google is what led you to this article…? However, if you do you will find no single 'best'. Instead there will be a 'best' for a certain type of team and for individual situations. If you run a call centre, you might actually be looking for customer-service training, which is something entirely different. If you are a reactive company looking to improve your inbound response team, well, yes, you’re in the right place, particularly if you are looking to help an outbound team or a mix of both. If you have just one person making new business calls for you, contacting an acknowledged and accredited coach is in my opinion the best advice anyone can give.
For me, though, the big ‘but’ is, are you using the right description in the first place? Sales ‘training’ can be a misleading term. To get service skills to the highest levels, companies should aim to train staff themselves. In other words, the owners/bosses should be the trainers. This should be mandatory. All staff within a company need to be fully trained on what the company is offering. They should also be fully up-to-speed on the competition and on the current industry news – in other words they should know exactly what the company does within its sphere of operations. When it comes to improving individual performance and making staff more proficient on the telephone, though, the process very quickly morphs into sales ‘coaching’.
Sales coaching is about the people who are making the calls, together with all other aspects of their activity and behaviour whilst they are in your employ. My primary stipulation concerning a potential sales coach is that the person needs to have had pretty much a lifetime’s experience on the phone before they can hope to help others to the highest level. They need to have been truly ‘out there’, with a whole raft of experience, plus notable successes in real-life scenarios, which they can then pass on to the next generation. This is how I acquired the skills that helped me become a dynamo on the phone! Anyone who relies on theory - not to mention seminars which include demeaning and patronising role-play - should be given a wide berth, as should youngsters who don’t actually have the wherewithal to sell anything themselves but who are nonetheless promoting themselves as 'trainers'. You should also be wary of large, so-called training companies with a one-size-fits-all approach to business in both the private and public sectors. My first question in this instance would be, who are their trainers? In telephone sales, when it comes to coaching, people with university degrees and/or backgrounds in IT, including foundation courses in business consultancy, will not stand a chance against years of hands-on, personal experience in how to close a deal. Whilst I would agree that not every successful salesperson is cut out to help others, what I do know is that no telephone sales coach can be successful without having had a truly outstanding career on the phone themselves. This is the fine distinction you need to make. Always look for experience over bells and whistles.
During the course of my own career as a salesman, I made a sizeable income closing sales for a variety of high-profile businesses and I could have gone on to make more. However, at the age of 50 I decided I really needed a change - which brings me to another point. If you were a successful telephone closer, why on earth, in your 30s and 40s, would you give up that level of income to become a trainer or a coach? You wouldn't, would you? Consequently - and quite understandably - people in business tend to be skeptical about coaches and trainers who self-evidently have plenty of gas left in the tank but who have pulled over to the hard shoulder and stuck a coach or sales trainer sign on their windscreen. People reinvent, rewrite and repackage the subject of sales help all the time. However, have you ever seen the same done on persuasion techniques? Of course not. The art of persuasion is as old as time itself. The focus needs to be on the qualities of the person delivering the sales message as distinct from the message itself.
I would not be foolhardy enough to claim that I’m the best at what I do. I have, however, been described by some as the most authentic they have encountered. With every individual I work with, I certainly do try hard to get them to produce and project the very best version of themselves, every day, both in the office and on the phone. Others in my field may claim to do the same, of course, so the ultimate choice is yours. This is why I encourage prospective clients to speak to my existing clients if they need reassurance that their investment in me is the correct route towards increased performance for their company. I don’t think I have ever had negative feedback from former clients, which indicates I have fulfilled their expectations. Whomever you choose to help you, though, do keep in mind the axiom that not everyone can be coached to success. Some will wilfully resist help; others cannot be helped at all. But around 80% of the individuals in any one team will show significant improvement after receiving targeted, bespoke advice. So, on that basis alone, it's surely worth the investment.
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.
Why success boils down to this one piece of advice…
"If you were to condense all the telephone sales' tips down to a single piece of advice, what would it be?" This was the intriguing question put to me at a recent seminar on telesales for professionals. My reply was something which has been with me ever since I first started in sales and was given to me as a sage piece of advice by a sales manager I worked with all those years ago. "Work on yourself", he bellowed at me, his very young protégée.
This response usually makes the assumption that everything else is in place. You've got yourself a good job, working in a team making outbound or receiving inbound calls. The company is solid; it's provided you with training and support; your colleagues are smashing sales' targets and you need to join them in the winners enclosure. Of course you do, you are ambitious. ' Work on Yourself' applies whether you are appointment making or making telephone sales calls, doing customer service calls or follow up to inbound enquiries calls. It is all exactly the same for this, the best piece of sales coaching advice.
So let me now pass on that tip to you, since it's the most valuable I can give. 'Work on Yourself' is about attitude, aptitude, application and ambition. You need to develop all four to become a winner. As for finer detail, you can add the following: try hard to be the first in the office, the first on the phone and the least likely to be distracted by browsing your smartphone. Identify the top two performers in your team, learn from them and use them to build your self-esteem and your enthusiasm on the phone. Providing you are respectful of them and their time, they will rarely decline to help. Good people are generally happy to share their knowledge and tactics - it's the amateurs and their advice in your circle you need to dodge.
Aptitude really does mean that you have to be the right person for the job. If your head is out the window and you would rather be being something else or anything else than sales you will never end the month in the winners’ enclosure. You need to be on the next train out of town. That's the sorry reality for many these days same as it has always been. Sales is for resilient, very smart people only.
Working on yourself means ensuring you have the very best attitude towards your work, your potential clients, your boss and your colleagues. No matter what anyone else does, remain professional yourself - and this includes dressing and speaking properly. Perfecting and refining the way you appear to others in person as well as over the phone is absolutely central to a successful career on the phone. Then make a whole bunch of calls every day without letting yourself off the hook, that's application.
Remember also to be truly professional on the phone at all times, this is your attitude to the work in hand. Attitude can be quite a challenge for most of us and getting a good attitude doesn’t happen overnight. So please never try to pretend that you are already the person you aspire to be in telesales since this is most unlikely to be the case. As in most things, there is no end to the learning process inherent in telephone sales. So never forget that you're in a continuous state of evolution!
Why company owners need to train themselves up…
This is not a hard article for me to write because it's my strongly held view that company owners have to be the sales leader and that means training yourself up. Being a sales leader means having really done the job yourself so that's the basic training.
If you want to be a sales leadership trainer you can only be accepted if you have done the original sales job successfully yourself. You are training people to lead in a sales orientated team. So you as the leaders' leader or trainers' trainer have to have done both yourself to a very high standard.If you have, read on. Otherwise the following is not written for you and you will struggle to implement change as you are not authentic and that tends to come searing through any flakey training. A sales leader cannot be coached or trained by the HR department, accounts manager or customer service director. He is developed by the company owner, every time. He very often is the company owner…I hope so.
Sales leaders will need to understand that every single member of a sales team will be successful in a slightly or greatly different way based on style, knowledge, focus and determination. No two people are alike so it's not a good idea to try and make everyone conform to any defined or perceived image. A big part of being a sales leader is to understand the need to get inside the heads of your team. You have to know as much as you can know about your team and what are the drivers that make them good or currently poor salespeople. Then you can implement change for the better.
A sales leadership trainer will need a comprehensive library and an ability to read and digest a lot of information, mainly in his own time. Some of the best books on sales are actually books on persuasion. Look for persuasion titles more than sales. Sales books often make themselves out of date quite quickly by talking about new ages and new eras and how a particular book prepares you for the newness of it all. You are being sold with these titles; the very best books are often the timeless ones talking about persuasion. You never see a book on persuasion saying "persuasion isn't like it used to be" yet most sales books will try and convince you of that as they sell you on buying the magic words. These magic words have been repackaged and trade marked a thousand times, I have them. Buy a book or books on persuasion and become a convert.
If you are the business owner then, where possible , you should be the sales leader. At some point if you founded the company you would have been the chief sales guy . So wherever possible, if you have not grown too big remain the sales leader yourself. If delegating this position your new leader has to have the respect of your team and not be domineering, not be obsessive with figures and be very much a people person to each individual to cajole the best out of them. This sales leader also needs to be taking the bull by the horns and really leading by example. If cold calling is involved he does cold calling, if walk-ins to clients are part of the business the sales leader does this too, and regularly. Too many sales leaders end up as KPI counters.
Sales leaders are often, very often, not the top person in a team. They can also be recruited from outside and need to come to you with a great stack of experience, humour, patience and wisdom. Do not be the company that trains up a sales leader for that person to go off and be someone else's sales leader. It's a pivotal role and do try and be that person yourself if you own the company is my advice. Other stuff can be delegated, but sales is your main source of income and new clients. It has to have your attention as the owner is also my advice. What am I saying here? Yes, I am saying that the sales leader should be the MD not someone else. Train yourselves up guys, that's the answer.
Words of wisdom from a seasoned sales trainer…
The signal most frequently asked question to me as a professional telesales coach is for 'tips'. Let me be perfectly straight with you here: tips on their own will never work for anyone who is struggling in telephone sales and appointment making. The reason? Success or failure is all about YOU. It's not about me, it's not about the experience or knowledge that I can pass on with my sales coaching hat on...it's about you. You will need tips about YOU long before you need tips about me and what tips I can give you in the telephone sales process.
The first tip would be to ask yourself if you are truly cut out for sales? My truth for you is that everyone, every single human walking the planet is in sales. Most of them, that's 90% of them are not very good salespeople. You need to be in that 10% at the top; mentally very fit, very success focused, very positive. If you don't make the cut at this level you will not make the winners enclosure in telesales. You never will. So firstly my number one telesales tip is to get yourself in shape for a career in sales. Avoid getting in shape and you will be in there with the 90% who struggle. Get yourself in shape for selling and that includes admitting you are in sales, not marketing, business development or any of the excuses instead of the proper title of salesman. Get a sales attitude which is one of helpfulness.
Here's tip number two. People talk about luck. I have always been called very lucky in sales. You know what? That very old saying about people making their own luck could never be true today. Good telephone sales people are harder to find and keep than ever before and that is despite hundreds of thousands of bodies being involved in the persuasion by telephone business. The tip here is that you need to learn to make your own luck by being prepared for every outcome. Having all the product or service knowledge is the unbeatable advantage. Learning from mistakes and missed sales. Understanding what people are really saying to you as you listen to their replies.
Tip number three is to look the part and be the part. Offices up and down the country are filled with slovenly dressed, slovenly spoken sales reps on telephones. Any chance you might buck the trend, take a pride in your appearance, your speech, your manners, your language? Doing this will add a good percentage to your daily success and you will enjoy life more. If there is an opportunity to dress up or down keep dressing up for business. It will never do you any harm. Avoid dress down days and all such larks. Business is business and your boss is your own pocket and what goes into it. Be a professional
Telesales tip four is professional telephone sales coaching. If you are just being managed at work or if you are the owner and just "managing" then get your company a professional sales coach who will only have your best interests at the heart of their help. Make absolutely sure that your coach has many years hands-on telephone experience. Never take advice from people have not done exactly you are being asked to do. It's easy to spot a professional coach from an amateur. Anyone under 45 teaching others how to sell needs to have a rethink. They should be selling and at the height of their selling career.
My 5th and last tip for this article will be of practical assistance today and every day. Everyone eternally asks "Getting past the gatekeeper" questions when they meet me. The tip is never to try and "get past" anybody. Be truthful and very natural as your adversary on the other end of the phone will usually be smarter than you, having spent a long time fielding Smart Alec salesmen cold calling on the phone. If you don't know someone, never pretend you do and always tell the truth to a gatekeeper and watch your prospect connection rate soar.