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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Member Blog: The Call...Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

By Kevin Charlton - Managing Director, Steer Coaching & Development Ltd

I’ve been thinking about the mistakes I’ve made with telephone calls over the years and, the time and money it has cost me….And I don’t want you to lose out in the same way.

I’m in the business of helping people and I believe that selling is hard enough without inadvertently causing more problems. I’ve been fortunate to work with learned people who have passed on their knowledge and expertise. This coupled with my own learning means I have something to share with others.

All of my working life; I’ve had to pick up the telephone and make a call to find business. So, in 30+ years, you can imagine the number of mistakes I’ve made and the time, deals and money I’ve wasted by saying the wrong things.

Let me give you just a few examples of classic phrases I’ve used:

“Hello Mr Smith…how are you today?”
“Hello Mr Smith my name is Kevin Charlton from XXX and what we do is…”
“Hello Mr Smith…this is just a courtesy call”
“Hello Mr Smith…I’m just updating our records”
“Hello Mr Smith…we are your local XXX”

Your opening is the most powerful and critical part of the call and if you don’t get this bit right, then closing techniques are irrelevant.

If you were the customer, what would you want to hear?

Well, the customer won’t tune into the words for the first few seconds; they are listening to the voice quality and making a decision on whether they might like this person and what they have to say. When they hear a slight pause before the caller engages, they get the impression that they are just another number on a speed call list and they switch off or hang up. The same thing happens when you dial the number without picking up the handset; the customer answers and, all too often there is a second or two before you react and pick up the phone…Just don’t do it!

We understand when a customer calls or visits us they are looking for a solution to a problem and the salesperson’s role is to qualify the extent of the problem; create the urgency to act and persuade them to buy. When we call a prospective client; they don’t even know they have a problem for us to solve; so the call has to accommodate this.

If I were the customer, these would be my thoughts:

1. Do I fit the profile of what they are talking about?
2. Do I have an issue and could this be the right solution for me?
3. Are they a credible supplier to provide the solution?
4. What would make me do it now?

So after the professional introduction, checking you are talking to the right person and seeking permission to continue, you need to quickly answer the questions in the customer’s head.

1. Profile:

“Hello Mr Smith….as a long-standing customer…”
“Hello Mr Smith….as the head of careers I’m sure you will….”
“Hello Mr Smith….like fellow business owners….”

2. Problem & Solution:

“You may unknowingly be paying too much for…”
“Students are more likely to succeed if they…”
“The cost of finding and training the right staff can…”

3. Provider:

“I thought it only right to inform you and…”
“We are accredited and approved by…”
“We understand and do something different…”

4. Now:

“There is a limited amount of…”
“It has been suggested that we talk to you…”
“So before you throw away any more money…”

Preparation is the key to call success. Taking time to plan what you want to say, thinking about it from the perspective of the customer and their likely responses will enable you to overcome possible objections. I now apply the B.E.V.A. test to everything I present (I’ll save this for another time!) which has made a massive difference to my success rate.

The good news is I now spend more of my time in front of clients rather than trying to pin them down to appointments through a telephone call.

If you’d like to find out more about telephone sales coaching then either give me, Kevin, a call on 07866 469194  or visit:

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