Wednesday, 30 March 2011

One word to avoid when making outbound calls

Just!

This one little word is without doubt the most commonly used negative term in UK outbound calling. 

The next time you receive a sales call consider how often the word is used.

- Just a quick call...
- Just following up on the literature we sent you...
- Just a catch up call...
-Just calling to introduce...

The word is destructive for 3 reasons:

- Sends a signal to the customer that the call is not important.

- Gives the impression that the caller is nervous or apologetic.

- Instantly triggers sceptical thoughts in the mind of the customer.

"Just" is an example of habitual verbal junk.  The word has no purpose, no benefit and therefore no reason to be used on your calls.

Cutting this one word from all outbound sales calls will instantly improve the quality of your first impression.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Advice - Opening Statements - Outbound Sales Calls

This article explains the importance of having a clear statement of intent when making a sales call i.e. telling the customer what you want!

Most people become instinctively sceptical when receiving a cold call. 

A potential customer will make a decision to talk to you or dump you within 5 seconds.


For this reason the number 1 priority for the professional outbound caller is to overcome this barrier of cynicism within the opening stages of the conversation.

What do you want!!

This blunt question is the most common thought that springs up in the mind of the sceptical customer.  Successful outbound callers tackle this issue head on by making point of including a clear statement of intent as part of their call introduction. 


The statement of your intent.
The statement of intent is not just another way to describe the reason for your call.  Outbound callers often have a reason for making the call but no statement of intent e.g.
"I am just calling to make sure you have received the quotation I sent to you..." 

Your statement of intent goes one step further and explains exactly what you want to do on that call e.g.
"I wanted to make sure you have received the quotation and more importantly discus your feedback in a little more detail."

 
The effective statement of intent incorporates the following types of phrase:

- I wanted to...
- I would like to...
- I am keen to...
- I am interested in...
- I wanted to discuss...

Compare the following 2 introductory statements:
Both examples have been taken from the same organisation but there are striking differences in the approach adopted by each caller.

1 - I was just wondering if you need any stationary delivered this week at all...

2 - I am calling to take your stationary order for delivery on Thursday...


One sounds weak and apologetic. The other is a clear statement of intent which in turn encourages a positive and more honest reaction from the customer.

Helpful Tips:

Ø  Be realistic.  You are not going to make a sale on every call but you can set yourself a target of making a good first impression on every call.

Ø  Decide what you want from the conversation before making the call. Let this form the basis of you statement of intent.

Ø  Consider your introduction as an opportunity to create the right conditions to make a sale later in the call.

Ø  Cut out the negative vocabulary "just wondering" "sorry to bother you" "Just a quick catch up call" etc.

Ø  The clearer your statement of intent the greater the chance of making a sale.

Want more information?
If you would like more information on improving your sales calls drop me a line directly kevinb@tctc.co.uk.

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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Advice - The Quote Follow up Call

This article examines the two most common mistakes made on quote follow up calls and provides some helpful advice on how to conduct these calls successfully.

What are the two most common errors?

- A weak reason for calling.
- The use of closed sequence questions.

The following call introduction demonstrates both errors: 

Salesman - I am just calling to make sure you received the quote I sent to you...
Customer - Yes I have.

Salesman - That's good. Did it cover everything you needed?

Customer - Yeah I think it pretty much covers most areas.

Salesman - Good, do you need any other information from me?

Customer - No I have all I need thank you.
Salesman - Is it ok to give you a call in a week or so to see how things are going?
Customer - Yes that's fine.

The weak reason for calling
Calling to confirm receipt of the quote is what you expect from a junior administrator.  The professional salesperson understands that the customer's feedback is the valuable treasure.  The call introduction should reflect this.  More effective examples would be:

"I wanted to discuss the quotation I sent over to you..."
"Calling to make sure you have received the quote and more importantly I'd like to discuss your feedback..."

There are of course many other statements which can work well here but these examples leave the customer in no doubt that you are intending to have a conversation about the quote - not just confirming receipt.


The use of closed sequence questions
Closed sequence questions (defined as being 3 or more closed questions in a row) are counterproductive.  They will always lead you into a dead end and do nothing to extract the valuable feedback.

Your introduction may of course include a single closed question i.e.
Did you receive the quotation? Or Have you had a chance to read through the quote?
 Once you have the clarified these points it is essential to open the conversation to obtain feedback.
 
This feedback may cover a wide range of areas such as:
- The customer's views on the quote.
- How your quote compares to others they may have received.
- The current status of the project you have quoted on.
- What the next steps are going to be.
- The process of decision making.

Above all else your questions at this stage need to be thought provoking.   There are many examples of thought provoking questions which can be effective on these calls such as:

What are your thoughts?
How are we looking?
The second example is arguably the most effective question to use.


Take a look at how this is used in a call:

Salesman - I wanted to discuss the quotation I sent over to you...
Customer - Ok.
Salesman - Have you had a chance to read through the quote?

Customer - Yes I have.

Salesman - Excellent, how are we looking?


This strong, direct approach cuts out the pointless list of closed questions.   This is a very open, confident and professional way to invite feedback.


Want more information?
If you would like more information on improving your sales calls drop me a line directly kevinb@tctc.co.uk.

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