Entrepreneurial Selling

Selling on the Phone

Without face-to-face contact, some folks say it's hard to establish rapport, do a needs analysis and close a sale. Rubbish, we say. Here are some great tips for selling on the phone.

Selling over the phone is a double-edged sword. Modern telecommunication technology has made it possible for you to contact more prospects from anywhere in the world.

Selling on the Phone

Yet at the same time, prospects have become increasingly savvy about erecting barriers between themselves and uninvited sales calls. With so much at stake and so many things working against you, is selling by phone still a viable option?

You bet! All you need is a little phone selling know-how to get past the smoke screen and start closing sales. As you become more experienced in phone sales, you will develop tricks and tips that are tailored to your style and your products. But for now, here are some basic tips to start you on your way . . .

Write a script (and throw it away)

Your script represents your sales strategy - your plan of attack to turn a prospect into a satisfied customer. During a sales call your script is your lifeline, but only to the extent that you have internalized the process and understand its workings. After you've written your script, set it aside before you begin making calls. The worst thing you can do is read it verbatim to a prospect.

Work a schedule.

Establish a schedule for making sales calls and stick to it religiously. A reliable schedule is important because it holds you accountable for staying on track to reach your goals. However, it also gives you the ability to do some advance research and planning, especially if you know who you will be calling a week or more in advance.

Lean on technology.

A quality CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is a tremendous help in selling over the phone. Having all your prospects information at your fingertips gives you the ability to adapt your approach to the prospect's specific needs and characteristics. If the prospect has purchased from you in the past, it also gives you the ability to determine how you might help take the next step through upgrades.

Respect time.

Time is many prospects most precious commodity. Find a way to tell them upfront that you aware of their time constraints and that you value their time as much as they do. If you do it right, they will be more likely to listen to you, knowing that their time commitment is only for a few minutes.

Connect quickly.

The flip side of the time factor is that you have to connect with a prospect quickly. Some experts suggest that unless you make a connection with a prospect in the first 3 seconds of the call, you probably won't make a sale. Instead of looking for a cheap parlor trick, try to connect with the prospect by communicating a genuine personality and positive attitude.

Do follow-ups.

If your first attempt to sell a prospect over the phone doesn't work, don't necessarily give up. Work them into your calling schedule a few months down the road for a follow-up. This time, remind the prospect that you spoke with them a few months ago and you're just calling to see if their situation has changed or if there is anything else you might be able to help them with. If your first contact resulted in a sale, you might be able to upgrade them by utilizing a follow-up approach.

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