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

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

Why Telephone Sales Confidence Is So Important

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".

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