Thursday, 6 October 2011

Successful Telesales - How To Improve Performance

Many people receive sales calls over the phone – “telesales” calls as they are known. Some of these get the recipient’s attention immediately and make a sale; others result in them thanking the “teleseller” (perhaps) and hanging up after the first 10 seconds.

Effectiveness at telesales is a skill. Unlike a face-to-face encounter, where both sides can see height, weight, colour of hair, facial expression, body language and so on, the teleseller has only their voice to help them and has less than 15 seconds to grab their “buyer’s” attention.

What’s the difference and why do some telesellers succeed whilst others are halted in mid-sentence?

What I’ve noticed is that the callers who get buyers’ attention display several common characteristics. They:

1. Check if it’s convenient to speak; if not, they offer to call back later (and agree date/time);
2. Tell the buyer why they’re calling;
3. Sound energetic and cheerful and speak clearly;
4. Get information out of the target, making it a 2-way conversation;
5. Keep the call short.

Those who don’t get attention do the opposite; they:

1. Call at awkward times (late in the evening, dinner time or weekends);
2. Fail to define the purpose of their call;
3. Use a prepared speech before checking if the buyer has time;
4. Are often inarticulate or incomprehensible;
5. Don’t engage the buyer with questions to draw out their needs.

A teleseller has only seconds to get their buyer’s attention and can’t waste this time with being incomprehensible or by running through legal/administrative speeches. Assuming that they zero in on why they’re calling and that they still have the buyer’s interest, they then need to engage them. This will not happen if they run through a long list of features and benefits, as a buyer will not retain information delivered like this.

A simpler tactic is to use a series of “closed” questions (requiring a yes or no answer) with carefully chosen “open” questions (requiring an explanation or a longer answer). The teleseller can then build up a profile and “lead” their buyer to a sale.

This means that telesellers need to plan their calls – not always easy when under pressure to complete a given number of calls within a given timeframe. However, unless they are being judged on numbers of calls only (which may be the case), they will experience a higher success rate (i.e. sales made) if they plan and execute properly.

So to recap:

1. Plan your call;
2. When the phone is answered, state who you are, why you’re calling and ask if the person on the other end has time to speak (if you can, say it’s for five minutes);
3. If they can speak, go ahead; otherwise, ask for a convenient date and time to call back (and make sure you do); if they aren’t interested, thank them for their time and hang up;
4. Speak clearly;
5. Ask closed and open questions to engage the person and lead to the sale.

A badly planned and executed telesales call not only results in no sale. It may also cause the buyer to view that company with suspicion or even hostility in the future, resulting in lower sales and/or loss of reputation.

I have spent more than half my life working in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in the world financial services industry running different service, operations and lending businesses, I started my own Performance Management Consultancy and work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email . My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.

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