"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 ~

THE ESSENCE OF SUCCESSFUL TELEPHONE SALES LIES IN PERSISTENCE

As with all my suggestions, the following is my opinion only.   However, it's an opinion shaped by many years' experience of selling on the telephone and helping to run teams in such a way as to lead to optimum results.   It's empirical advice and it will help you.   Or it won't.   You alone can be the judge.


Depending on the business in question, many sales conversations are initiated by inbound enquiries - by phone, e-mail or via social media.   All can generate enquiries, but how you deal with these first green shoots will determine much of what does or does not follow.
Therefore it's unwise to treat them in an idle or cavalier fashion.   '19 inbound leads today;  spoke to 4 of them.' when you report your daily and weekly activity does not cut it today. In fact  It never has cut it yet in my long experience this is something which occurs in teams regularly.

I have often speculated on what becomes of those potential clients who are not spoken to directly ? Are they eventually called again, e-mailed an estimate, or are they simply left to crumble into dust ?
I know what frequently transpires after one inbound call - the enquirer gets an e-mail response and that's it.   Big Mistake.   
This may sound extreme but I recently worked closely with a company in which this was almost standard practice.   E-mailing quotes to potential clients based on inbound calls, e-mail or social media enquiries has to be the most misjudged response any telephone salesperson can make.   So I hope this person is not you.
The company I refer to  deals with inbound enquiries in a competitive arena, handling a steady stream of enquirers all looking for a quote -  Put simply,  the sales' team does not value the enquires they are getting.  Not replying to an inbound enquiry directly and personally, by phone, is  poor business practice. If teams cut this out more sales would be made. More up-selling and more cross-selling would follow too.
If time permits, those making the enquiry should all be called back on the day of their initial approach.  You need to speak to them directly - that’s the business you are in.  So keep calling until you're able to speak to them or they have somehow disqualified themselves.   Do not take the easy route by resorting to e-mail. Email is not better than email followed by an email.
The best sequence of action - and the only one that I personally advocate - is Phone-Mail-Phone. Opening your relationship with a potential buyer is nearly always best done by telephone, since in that first call you get the who/what/ where/when, at which point things can generally be effectively followed up with an e-mail confirmation.   By contrast, responding to an e-mail with an e-mail is not only lazy but more significantly it means you entirely bypass the opportunities created by a direct conversation.
Assuming you know what your correspondent wants is never, ever, good enough. You have to speak to them to know for sure what their intentions are and how best to deal with them.
Therefore, try very hard to answer by telephone everything in your Inbox which looks as if it could turn into income for your company.   Only resort to e-mail if you really, really cannot reach the person you need to speak to by phone.  
And start calling immediately, since the first two days are critical in terms of response time.   Make this an absolute priority if you are working on an inbound desk. Remember you can never call an inbound enquiry too soon. 
After all, you have a perfectly legitimate reason to be ringing if the person in question has contacted you in the first place.   You are entitled to follow up and saying so should get you past the most obstructive gatekeepers.   You are responding to an enquiry, so use that advantage.
In summary, call all potential clients who approach you and speak to whomever you need to with confidence.   Come the end of the month, you'll be pleased that you did.   Don’t be fooled by the temptation to e-mail rather than picking up the phone.  You need to establish a person-to-person relationship and this can only be achieved through direct human interaction.

So put my counselling to the test and surprise yourself.   If you apply it correctly, you will open several new accounts each month. You will also sell more to new accounts and gain opportunities to cross-sell other lines and services.   Take it from me, e-mail is not the effective route to success:  a voice at the end of a telephone is.

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