Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Telesales - Improve Your Effectiveness

The telephone is a vital sales tool for businesses large and small.  Some companies employ others just to make calls on their behalf to prospective customers.  With the ability that the telephone gives us to reach out to complete strangers, why is it that this isn’t as successful as it could be?  

Here are several ways to improve your chances: 

1.      When you call someone unexpectedly, you’re interrupting their day.  Find out first if you’re calling at a good time and whether the person on the other end of the line has time.   

2.      Explain clearly who you are, where you’re calling from and why.  Keep it short.  Too often, I’ve answered the phone to have a salesperson at the other end launch into a prepared speech.  I hung up.  How long did it take them to realise that they were talking to thin air? 

3.      Ask questions to find out whether what you’re selling is right for the person on the other end of the line.  This may mean you spend longer on the phone, but you establish a relationship, trust and whether you should be selling to them. 

4.      Keep it short.  Not everyone can remember (let alone process sensibly) the vast amount of information that can be thrown at them.  Your sales pitch may look brilliant on paper, but may be too long when delivered over the phone, annoying the customer.  It makes your job more difficult.  Try reading it out aloud and get a friend or colleague to listen. 

5.      Stick to easy-to-remember facts.  Pause to let the other person take it all in. 

6.      Remember: unlike face-to-face conversation, you can’t see the other person, so you can’t see when they look interested, bored or confused.  Listen for clues such as hesitation or requests to repeat information.  Ask if you need to repeat anything. 

7.      Lead the customer on in easy steps, each one of which builds on what has gone before.  If necessary, repeat where you have reached and how/why. 

8.      Offer to send information by email or even regular mail.  It’s surprising how many organisations forget this. 

9.      Offer to call back later to continue the conversation.  Provide a contact number for the customer. 

10.  Keep the “verbal small print” to a minimum.  I hung up once on one consumer magazine when their representative started reading out a long list of terms and conditions.  Perhaps their lawyers had said this was necessary, without realising that people generally don’t want to listen to this.  If necessary, send the terms by mail or email. 

Many “telesales” staff are taught that their goal is to make as many calls as possible as this often produces the highest number of sales.  This approach emphasises “quantity over quality” and may expose your company to accusations of mis-selling.  Fewer calls emphasising “quality over quantity” would perhaps result in fewer sales, but the chances of keeping those customers are higher and the risk of damage to your reputation will be lower.

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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