Selling is a Contact Sport

Keys to Effective Phone Calling

By John Boe

It really doesn’t matter what product or service you are selling; the key to your long-term success is directly linked to your ability and desire to prospect effectively.

Prospecting for new business is critically important, and for the majority of salespeople, it is by far the most challenging and stressful aspect of their profession. Successful salespeople are proactive and recognize the importance of prospecting for new business daily. They don’t have to be reminded to ask for referrals or follow up on a sales lead, they do it automatically. This article is packed full of helpful phone calling tips and techniques which, if put into practice, will fill your appointment calendar with new business opportunities!

Don’t shoot from the hip, use a script. If you want to sound confident and competent, write out your opening and closing remarks. If you sound in the least bit nervous or unprepared, people will immediately sense this and rightfully assume that you lack experience. Using a phone script for your opening and closing remarks is a good idea for several reasons. A well-polished phone script gives you a consistent approach that keeps you on message and guarantees you don’t leave out important information. Be respectful of your prospect’s time by designing your phone script to be short, sweet, and to the point. Once you have prepared your phone script, tape record yourself reading it aloud until you sound smooth and polished. Critique your performance and improve your delivery.

Make a good first impression. During a face-to-face conversation, first impressions are based primarily on appearance. While on the other hand, first impressions created over the phone are based on brevity, vocal quality, and attitude. An upbeat mental attitude is contagious and, unless taken to an extreme, builds rapport and creates a very positive first impression. Keep in mind that a smile can be heard over the phone. The best way to build trust and rapport during a phone conversation is to match your prospect’s energy level. This is accomplished by “subtly” matching his rate of speech and tone of voice. For example, if you have the tendency to speak fast/loud and your prospect begins speaking slow/soft, you will need to lower your voice and slow your rate of speech down to match them. People want to do business with salespeople who they feel are similar to them.

Prepare and practice. Like most successful endeavors, the key to effective phone calling has a lot to do with preparation and practice. Practice builds confidence through repetition. Ask your sales manager or an associate to schedule an hour role-play session with you. It gives you a dress rehearsal and the opportunity to work the kinks out of your script. Create a realistic training environment by role-playing over the phone. Begin the role-play session with minimal prospect resistance and then, as your confidence builds, gradually inject typical prospect objections. While it is impossible to have a script that might address every conceivable objection, you must anticipate key objections and develop scripts to respond to them.

Stay positive, polite, and professional. It is best to make your phone calls during the morning when both you and your prospect are rested and fresh. Be organized, do your homework, and take good notes. Before you contact your prospect, take a moment to research his company and visit the website. By reading your prospect’s company newsletter, annual report, and press releases, you become familiar with the products and services. Stay organized and save time by using a contact management system, such as ACT, to record your notes after each phone call instead of relying on your memory.

Your prospect phone call is to make an appointment, not a sale. Most salespeople make the fundamental mistake of overeducating their prospects and dominating the phone calls in attempts to showcase their knowledge. Obviously you will need to respond to some questions; however, questions that require detailed responses become excellent reasons to secure an appointment. Use your precious phone time to gather information through the use of open-ended questions. Your objective is to build your prospect’s interest and arouse his curiosity through a series of well designed, probing questions about him and his organization. Just before you ask for the appointment, summarize the key points of your conversation for clarity and agreement.

Top producers don’t take rejection personally, because they realize that selling is fundamentally a numbers game. It really doesn’t matter what product or service you are selling; the key to your long-term success is directly linked to your ability and desire to prospect effectively. Phone calling in today’s marketplace is much more challenging than in years past, but fortunately the basics never change. Selling is, after all, a contact sport!

Copyright 2011, John Boe International. John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions. John is a nationally recognized sales trainer and business motivational speaker with an impeccable track record in the meeting industry. To have John speak at your next event, visit www.johnboe.com or call 937-299-9001. Free Newsletter available on website.

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