I did some listening into outbound telemarketing calls at a client the other day. Afterward, the Sales Director asked me for my honest feedback. I was lost for words. The lack of quality on the phone left me unsure where to begin. To summarise what I heard, the problems were as follows:
- Some very hesitant and sometimes nervous opening lines
- A distinct lack of rapport early on and throughout the calls
- Vague introductions leading to prospects asking questions about the purpose of the call
- Incorrect assumptions leading to prospect irritation
- Jumping in too soon with a sales pitch (in my view any time is too soon for a sales pitch)
- Lack of clarification and qualification that the person on the other end of the line was the decision-maker
- Weak propositions wholly centered on the seller and product not considering the buyer needs
- Features centered communication missing the benefits
- Inability to close when it was patently obvious that the prospect was in buying mode
- A very slow call rate
I could go on…..
I was concerned about the damage that these poor callers were doing to the company image especially since the value of the sale was potentially significant with calls being into sometimes very large organizations.
Suffice it to say that the calling session produced no good results. The problems were clear.
Telemarketing training, role-plays and lots of practice will help. However, none of that will be effective if the callers fail to build rapport on the phone. This is achieved by:
- Demonstrating confidence through a positive tone and pace of voice in the opening sentence
- Starting the call with a compelling customer-focused proposition
- Empowering the prospect by not pitching but rather engaging with them
- Using good questions to follow a positive introduction
- Actively Listening to answers and responding accordingly with ums, ahs, and words like I understand or I see…
- Picking up on cues rather than worrying too much about what you’re going to say next
- Picking up on the prospect’s use of language and using that language in the dialogue
- Summarising dialogue with phrases like ‘so if I understand correctly…’
- Avoiding stock phrases like ‘how are you today?’ And ‘the reason for my call is to introduce our products to you’
- Knowing prospect issues and engaging with them to help solve them rather than focusing on product featured sales pitches.