Canvassing by telephone offers a secondary method of reaching business owners. Although nothing replaces the impact and rapport of a face to face meeting, a phone call does have a number of advantages. The primary advantage is efficiency for your time management. Obviously, you can reach more people by calling than by personal visit. To get the most out of the telephone canvassing, note these key principles. The 10 key principles pertain in general to all telephone calls: negotiating a lease, calling on sellers, solving a banking problem, etc.
1. Be Prepared
In order to project a professional image on the phone you must be knowledgeable. The phone requires quick and self-assured responses, so you must know your service. You need to know your competitors as well, and what advantage you offer over them. You must also learn about the types of people you speak with everyday such as buyers, sellers, accountants, attorneys, landlords, bankers, health inspectors, franchisors, etc. Be aware of the different motivations.
2. Know the Purpose of Your Call
Before you pick up the phone, jot down a quick note of what you want to accomplish. To be profitable your calls must have a purpose: a listing appointment, a lease transfer, a referral. Once you pick up the phone get to the purpose of your call as quickly as possible.
3. Your Speech Dictates the Impression You Give
This can't be emphasized enough: It only takes 15 seconds for someone to form an impression about you on the phone. In that short period of time, an abundance of impressions are formed about your personality, your intelligence, your sense of organization, your confidence, education and overall competence.
Most diction problems are due to careless habits and are correctable. You can begin correcting them by listening to yourself on tape and identifying habits you want to change.
Establishing the proper tone of voice begins with your body language: how you sit in your chair, the posture you move with, etc.
4. Develop a Winning and Expectant Attitude
It is imperative that you see yourself as a competent, knowledgeable, professional, and that you and/or your office have the information and ideas that will benefit whoever you are speaking with.
Tom Peters in, In Search of Excellence, tells the story about why a prospect went with IBM even though their prices were 25% higher than the competition. "Everything about them smacked of assurance and success. I felt I could depend on them for reliability and service. They talked the sellers' language. There really was no other choice to make," the prospect said. If you speak positively, you will begin to think positively and enhance your belief in yourself.
5. Use the Other Party's Name
Surveys of telemarketers have indicated that the single most important factor in telephone sales is to call the prospect by name. A person's name is the sweetest music to his ears. Learn it quickly, use it frequently, but don't overdo it.
6. Use a Script or Format
Telephone selling requires a much higher degree of structure. By following a script or format you can spend your time truly listening to a prospect's responses. A script helps you stay on track, get to the point and it gives you an outline of the major subjects you want to cover, one at a time. The secret is that through practice, drill, rehearsal and role play you will speak your lines so well, no one will have any idea you are using one. You should also have a list of prepared questions to follow, allowing you to concentrate 100% of your time on listening to answers.
Ask as many open-ended questions as possible. This helps you obtain as much information as possible with the fewest number of questions. An example might be, "Tell me about your business." as opposed to "What kind of business are you in?" Follow a script or format and you will consistently achieve powerful results.
7. Establish and Build Response
There are two components to all phone conversations: the objective facts about the call, and the underlying emotions or personal feelings generated by the call. The emotional elements will build response. This begins by using the other person's name. Combined with a similar voice tone and speech pattern, you can make a prospect feel more in tune with you.
8. Stop Selling and Start Helping
Project the genuine image of a problem solver and helper. When you sell, you're doing something to them. When you're helping, you're doing something for them. Let the seller know that the purpose of the call is to establish whether you have mutual objectives and that this conversation is an opportunity to realize those goals. Do this by selling benefits, not features.
9. Always Close
If you are to succeed, you must know at least ten different closes. The average sale is made on the 5th attempt. Many times, a "no" is just a test. They want to see if you really believe in what you are representing.
Usually, you will close for an appointment. "Mr. Prospect, I wouldn't begin to tell you that you need what I have. That is for you to decide. But I can guarantee you will get enough profitable ideas from our interview to make it well worth your investment of just 30 minutes. Can we do that today, or would tomorrow morning at 9:00 be better?"
Before you hang up the phone be sure that you and your prospect are both clear on what you have agreed. Miscommunication will erode the terrific impression you've created. Review the time, date, and purpose of your next communication and thank the caller by name for his time.