"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 ~

Does Your Sales Office Have Swamp Fever?

The worst and most deadly sickness that can be found in a sales environment.…

The biggest and most damaging malaise in any sales office is Swamp Fever. It does not cause absenteeism, which occurs for myriad reasons, including migraine, stomach upsets, fractures, curry nights, sick children, sick pets, hospital appointments etc. By contrast Swamp Fever happens only AT WORK.

Swamp Fever always occurs at work, never at home. You need to be present in the office to contract it. It is highly contagious, decimating and debilitating entire telephone sales teams or striking one corner of the room only. If not swiftly treated, it can result in a painful, lingering and loss-making demise. Curiously, though, the symptoms vanish completely at going-home time. Solved the riddle yet?

Swamp Fever is how I refer to Call Reluctance, that ubiquitous and potentially lethal condition all sales people suffer from at one time or another. My observation is that it assumes 20 forms. Simply getting on the phone is impossible for some people until they have been at work for over an hour - not advisable and highly infectious. But that's only one example. If you’re not familiar with all 20 and you want increased sales, then acquainting yourself with the rest is important, since, as I say, it's the most viral and most debilitating scourge of virtually any sales office.

One interesting and disguised form of the disease is ‘being busy’. Some sales personnel go to extraordinary lengths to make themselves too busy for cold-calling, even for returning missed calls from potential clients. The ‘too busy’ guys can be the single biggest headache in the sales office for many business owners. They include some of us all the time and all of us some of the time. Do you work in an office where leads are emailed in by prospects and just nobody gets immediately on the phone ? This is far more common then most business owners get to hear about. 

Coaches, directors , managers, account managers, BDMs, anything you care to call yourself - we all consciously or unconsciously render ourselves ‘too busy’ to squeeze in the necessary number of cold calls and follow-ups needed each day, making cold-calling the most compromised activity in businesses the length and breadth of the land.

One  of my most regular challenges in client meetings and individual coaching. What’s interesting is that nobody ever calls me up and says ‘Hey, Simon, the problem in our office is call-reluctance’. Nobody says ‘my team is just too busy to pick up the phone’. And the reason for that is you, the business owner.  You have somehow been sold the idea that your team is too busy and convinced yourself that this is the case. My mission, therefore, is to get business owners back on track with the following mantra: Do not ever  be mesmerised or deceived by call-reluctance. Don't be persuaded into thinking it's anything else than what it is. Hence, I challenge all owners on how many cold calls they actually make themselves to those companies they know they should be doing business with. You sit behind your desk knowing who should be your client.....

As I’ve said, there are at least 20 identifiable forms of call-reluctance . There is a universal tendency to sweep this issue under the carpet. Owners do call me, but it's always about something else. It's about ‘renewing confidence in the team’, ‘a long time since our last training’, or ‘we don't have a sales manager qualified to coach’. In the end, though, it all boils down to several issues including the 20 forms of call-reluctance that can - and do - damage the productivity of sales teams every week. It’s all about call reluctance folks.

So if you have a failing team, or one which is failing to recognise call-reluctance, you either have a manager who’s not spotting it ( the technical term is a completely useless manager who is not leading by example) or you’re thinking that just telling people to get on the phone will fix it. You have directors and owners who just can't fathom it. For a start, if all of them were first to recognise the problem for what it is and then pull in professional help, the revenue increase for a small- to medium-sized company reliant on outbound sales activity would increase by a healthy average of more than 17.5% in under-performing teams. I have dealt successfully with this time and time again. It's my specialist subject. 

Call reluctance: the single largest barrier to success. More so than negativity, which is the second largest. The two are connected, obviously.

The law of being reimbursed for one's efforts prevents this particular blog from becoming any longer. The potential increase is there - companies just need the expertise and guidance to extract and exploit it. Working with me you tap into 30 years’ experience of running teams, making calls myself and focusing on this particular aspect of sales. So maybe it’s worth a thought and/or a call? Calls are not conditional: you call and we chat (as the spider said to the fly).

My educated guess is that if you have read this far, Swamp Fever is rife in your office. Otherwise you would have switched off!

Drinking Too Much And Its Parallels In The Sales Office

What has alcoholism got in common with members of a sales team? This is my theory.…

So, what has alcoholism got in common with members of a sales team and sales call reluctance?

This may seem like a strange question. Alcoholism is a serious illness. I would be the last person to make light of it in comparison to sales teams in telesales rooms. My comparison below is given as a theory.

This is my theory: Alcoholism, in its early and middle stages is the only illness known to man that tells you that there is nothing wrong with you. It tells you that there is something very wrong with most everyone else. It's how alcoholism fools you and how it is so destructive. The way it takes over makes it so that you don't feel that any of the responsibility for your condition lies at your door.

This then is the similarity with sales call reluctance. It is possibly the only profession that really does tell you, in the early and middle stages, how much is wrong with other people. Potential clients, even existing clients, are just not doing what you want, what you expect and what you strongly feel they should be to doing. In its latter stages call reluctance comes in and you hardly pick up the phone, and when you do it's just weak and inconsequential stuff. You stop selling and wait for people to buy. Meanwhile it's all their fault when they don't.

That's where the similarity ends. With alcoholism it usually kills you unless you manage to rehabilitate yourself. It's a sure-fire killer of most either directly or indirectly through accident or organ failure.

The end of the story in sales is simply being fired or jumping just before that happens.

We tell ourselves it's the customer‘s fault, it's management's fault. It's the leads, it's the time of year, it‘s the end of the week, its Chinese New Year, its Christmas, it‘s just after Christmas, it‘s January or it's the beginning of the week. It's all these things and more.

80% of the time it's simply us and our own tiny demon of self-talk. If there is just one other person in your office getting reasonable returns on their cold calls or dealing with incoming calls then the issue is normally us, nothing else. We are to blame for not having the attitude, the resources and the drive for new business.

The secret , if there is one, is to take stock of where you are. Stop and think. We all actually know where it's going wrong. Your desire needs to be very strong. That's number one.

Number two is are you asking for the business? Every call you make are you positioning yourself in such a way that you can ask for the meeting, ask for the advance towards the sale, ask for the sale? Are you willing and able to formulate a proper, concise and persuasive pitch and that ends with “Does that work for you?“.

Do you even have a script? No, you don't is probably the answer. You are way too smart for scripts I am guessing. But you are also probably skint at the end of each month. So why not treat yourself to a proper script and start calling like a professional? It's what I did for many years, using scripts wisely, selling commission only. Most of you would rather dig graves than work commission only.

All the rest of the process and the pitch dies away if you are not positioned to take the business when the opportunity arises. Are you making the opportunity, are you grabbing it at just the right moment? There is such skill involved and my concern is that many, many in sales are just waiting for lucky breaks. The 80/20 formula is rarely more accurate than in a sales team. Where are you sitting is the question? Desire and taking opportunities are where it all ends up. If you have the desire you get the product or service knowledge, you know the stalls, you know the strengths and the weaknesses of your argument and you are ready, like a tiger, to pounce. Or are you? When I visit offices I see very few tigers. I see a lot of sleepy cats. You know this and I know this. I have the answer and you have the question. Our mutual problem is that only you can implement the answer.

Take the positive from the above guys and girls and do something about your attitude to work and your attitude to being a huge sales success. It does not happen down country lanes or in country pubs. It happens inside you. If you can make it happen then Happy Days. Some of you will look at this as a rant and a couple will see this as their personal epiphany. Either way I am looking back from the Winner's enclosure. I did the above and had the epiphany. Fortunately many moons ago.

What's needed here is a grip of steel on yourself. The steel hand in the velvet glove that I mention so often. Only you can do this for you. I and others give you the tips , training and coaching but you have to weave your own spells. It's that complicated and that simple all at the same time. Being mindful of your place in the coaching process is essential. It's about a whole experience moving you forward never to return to the old weak ways. If that's not how you see it you have not engaged in the process. Many cannot, will not or are too lazy.

INFOGRAPHIC: Hot Summer Telephone Sales Tips

Try these suggestions on for size and see if any of them resonate with you…

Expect your results to hot up by following these tips whatever the weather...

Avoid False Certainty When Selling On The Phone

The absolutely certain cheeky chappy on the phone is the biggest turn off…

Expressing confidence while leaving room for uncertainty - you never truly know how a serious but more truthful conversation (and that's what a great sales pitch is) could really help you get your point across and gain some genuine traction with Ms or Mr Big.

If someone tells you they are absolutely certain how the flip of a coin will work out then they are seriously undermining their credibility. They should not be surprised that you are sceptical.

That's so true with sales pitches. The absolutely certain cheeky chappy or nervous wreck on the phone are the biggest turn offs. You lose before you even the start the race. Be cool, calm and above all be collected. Collect your thoughts and look at your script before going off on a rambling monologue about having all the answers. Take this tip folks.

You will work with people doing this, maybe you? Imagine you, yourself, as a business owner and a young, or not so young, nervous , bubbling cold caller gets through to you on a subject that really is of interest to you as you have been struggling for a long time with a certain aspect of the business. And this call could be the beginning of the answer.... so you listen to the opening lines...

Your interest will quickly turn to suspicion or disdain if your young caller starts telling you about the certainty they have that their company can instantly transform your own company. They tell you their products and services fix everything, they have the answers and you would be mad not to buy and yes it does this, that and everything else...some of which will be totally inaccurate.

They ignore the fact that you have had the issue for a long time and usually never ask such a question about you or how long or what type of issue you are facing. They give you the battering ram pitch. They predict everything with certainty and they are wrong.

In your personal life you will have these feelings with people who predict the outcomes of sporting events with certainty, the weather with certainty, movements on the stock market with certainty, the outcome of elections with certainty. Forecasting anything with certainty. Forecasting the Winners of horse races is my best example. It's all puffery. It's all nonsense as it's the same with a sales pitch.

Don't forget, everyone has more belief in people who express an opinion with confidence rather than wet and woolly people who seriously doubt themselves ("I'm not sure but I think....") . That is too far down the road of not being certain, so avoid that please. Use your loaf... that is not what I am suggesting.

The point is that total certainty in a position where total certainty is not a truthful option to offer is not going to score you many, if any, points with mature business owners and managers.

People prefer polite, confident but measured advisors. ( I am 80% sure that Dusty Carpet will not be beaten in the Derby is a way of getting your advice across every time. ) That's when they will see you for a meeting or take your advice properly, even seriously.

Try and work this into your pitch. Don't come across as the guy or Girl with the answer to everything and immediately. That is crass.

Be the person who is confident, even 80% sure but not making wild claims of being the perfect partner. That's why you need the meeting...

Follow the advice and your success rates when making cold calls to meetings and getting in front of people will soar.

Start changing some of your work patterns guys. Some of you really do need to step up and perform well now. The woolly pitches and garbage chat have to go. Start listening to your own calls if you have call recording. Please don't just agree with me and then go back to being yourself on the phone. My help is about making you change to be a top caller as I was. Ignore me and you float around the bottom of the fish tank for evermore.

I feel sure you are mostly potentially better than floating at the bottom of the fish tank and I urge you to prove it.

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".

Interview With Jose Mourinho

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.

INFOGRAPHIC: Top Tips For Telephone Sales Staff Productivity

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...

Why Focus Is Number One In Sales

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.

The Benefits Of Using Telephone Sales Scripts

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.

Smiling On The Telephone

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.

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