Making Successful Calls
The sales process does not change just because you are selling over the phone. The medium is different, the process is the same. It is the same with the one notable exception: because you are calling the potential client – in essence, interrupting their world - you have to get over that awkwardness that accompanies the first few seconds of the call. The part of the call where the client is trying to figure out “who is this and why are they calling?”
Most clients will give you the benefit of the doubt when they see it is their financial institution, or insurance agency calling, and at least pick up the phone. That doesn’t take away from the fact that they are still likely to be highly suspicious about what you want and why you are calling.
With that in mind, here are a few do’s and don’ts to increase you odds of making a successful call to your clients.
Do make sure they know who it is that’s calling – immediately. You have to assume that many people this day and age have call display. From the moment the phone rings they are thinking, “why are they calling?” If they do not have call display the curiosity is even greater. We know it’s top of mind so get right to it and tell them who you are in a calm, deliberate manner. There’s nothing worse than a caller that speeds through their introduction only to have to repeat themselves because the client could not understand who it was. When that happens, the suspicion level or awkwardness of the call gets even greater.
At the outset of the call, do not make it your goal to make a sale. Clients smell a sales call a mile away.
Do make it your primary goal to get the client to agree to a conversation. Everything should be geared towards lowering their suspicions about why you are calling and getting agreement from them that they will talk to you.
Apart from wanting to know who is calling, the next most pressing question we have when being called is that we want to know WHY they are calling. Your odds of developing rapport with the client go up if you can get to this statement quickly. Make sure they know why you are calling as it potentially benefits them.
Don’t assume you can help them. We all hate pushy aggressive sales people - that fact is universal. What makes sales tactics pushy? When the sales person assumes you need something. If you do not know if you can help them, don’t say in your opening that you can. Eliminate phrases like, “I’m just calling to save you some money "or "help you maximize your investments”. Despite how confident we are most clients, when they hear a phrase like that are thinking, “How do you know what you can and can’t do?”
Do let them know that you have been able to help other clients and that you’d like to see if you could potentially help them. That’s the honest truth isn’t it? You THINK you can help but it DEPENDS on their circumstances. So, be honest with them and let them know that upfront. People respect honesty. “Mr. Jones I’m calling because we have been recently been able to help many of our clients understand their investments a little better in light of the current market conditions and make some suggestions that increased their potential returns. Depending on your circumstances we may be able to help you do the same.”
Do make sure they have time to talk. Most callers will ask if their client “has a minute to talk”. Make sure you ask AFTER you tell them why you are calling. There is nothing that creates uneasiness more than being asked if you have time to talk, without knowing why they called. It’s called entrapment and most people resent it.
Don't ask them how they are unless they ask you how you are. Sound crazy? Ask around to find out about how much value people really put on being asked how they are by someone they only know through casual association. Many agree it’s annoying. While the caller is asking “how we are” all we are thinking is “Why are you calling me?” Tell them who you are and if you want, pause ever so slightly before you tell them why you are calling. If they are the type of client that wants to jump in and say, “Oh, hi how are you?” then that’s a logical point for them to do so and you can follow in kind. There’s nothing wrong with exchanging those pleasantries – actually it’s great if you can – just let the client be the one to initiate it.
After they say they have time to talk, don’t go into a telemarketing style pitch about what you want, have to offer, or how great your company is. The client will regret giving you permission to talk and will see to it next time you call that they don’t.
Do ask questions immediately after they give you time to talk. Your goal is to engage them in conversation, not to rush through a pitch, or ask them if they want to contribute this year. Asking questions immediately lets the client know this will be a conversation, nMaking Successful Callsot a pitch. It gets them to open up and talk about their situation. Remember, you can’t solve a problem (i.e. sell a product) until someone acknowledges they have the problem.
You can only call your clients at home so many times in a year before you start to use up the good will you have developed. Why not make certain you are as prepared as possible and have a rehearsed strategy so that when you do call, the odds of it being successful are as large as possible?
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