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Sales Training: How To Sell on The Phone

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

The Internet, email, FedEx® are the principal tools for many businesses large and small.

But the most used tool, by far, is still the telephone.

A great number of small-town customers still let their "fingers do the walking" when they look for your business.

So, it's critical that you understand how important the phone is and how to use it to its full potential in your business.

The Phone Is Conversation and Communication

The First Rule of Using The Phone is to realize that you are having a conversation with someone. When you meet a friend on the street, do you talk to them in the same way you do on the phone?

Most people would say no. You are having a face-to-face conversation with someone. You are smiling as you are talking.

Smile when you talk on the phone. Pretend they are right there in the room with you.

The Second Rule of Using The Phone is that the person asking the questions in any conversation is always in control of the conversation.

If the customer is asking the questions, they are in control. They have you on the defensive. You can't sell effectively until you regain control.

The Third Rule of Using the Phone is to understand that it is physically and emotionally impossible to be polite and courteous and aggressive and pushy at the same time.

You are either one or the other.

You can't be polite and courteous at work if you are naturally aggressive and pushy at home.

How to Discover Your Customer's Needs

If you were going to purchase a car would you just pick a dealer, call them up, and ask, "Hey, how much are cars today?"

Probably not. Why? Because there is a lot of information you don't know.

Here are some questions the car dealer might need to know the answers to:

1. Mid-Size, Compact , Luxury?
 2. Color?
 3. Brand Name? 
4. Car, 4-Wheeler, Mini-Van?
 5. Two-Door/4 Door?
 6. Accessories?
 7. In Stock/Special Order? 
8. New or Used? 
9. Available Financing?
 10. And yes, you might even want to know the price.

Notice that Price is not the number one question on the list. Why?

Because price is a perception of value. If I were to simply ask you, "How much is a car?" you’d have a hard time coming up with a price until you had more information.

You Can't Give Information If You Don't Have Information

The salesperson should be responsible for a variety of information.

Customer service, product sales, product promotions, accuracy of order or customer information along with courtesy and diplomacy.

Here are some areas your phone people need to be trained to handle:

Sales orders
 Inquiries of merchandise or services Dates of delivery or service scheduling Follow-up or service calls
 Policies re: returns or exchanges of goods or services
 Customer Services - price adjustments, follow-up calls, replacement merchandise.

In order to be effective, phone salespersons must be familiar with all departments and products the company offers.

Some things the salesperson might need:

Copies of all current marketing and advertising promotions and ads.
 Copies of competitors ads (to match offers)
 Order/Shipping/Credit Card Forms

Calculator/Scratch Pads
 Pricing Guides
 Product or service availability and schedules.
 Company policies and legal disclaimers

Steps to The Sale

1. Introduction:
 When answering the phone give:
Company Name
Your name.
 "Good morning; Smith Realty; Mrs. Anderson speaking"

Remember, this is your "first impression" with the customer. This one area is very important.

The customer may decide whether or not to do business based on how they are treated when they call your company.

2. Finding A Need: 
Ask "open-ended" questions. Questions that can't be answered by a yes or a no. Let the customer talk as much as they want without interruption.

Remember, the person asking the questions is in control of the conversation.

What are they asking for? Have they done this before? What did they like about their last experience? What didn't they like? What was the level of service?

Each product or service should have a group of questions that are commonly asked.

Brainstorm with each other for answers to these questions without losing control of the conversation.

3. Recommendations And/or Up Selling:
 As with our car analogy above, you can't recommend a car without asking a few questions.

To present the product, you might say something like, "Based on what you told me, here is what I recommend...."
As an up-sell, "I have had several people this package."

4. Overcoming Objections:
 An objection is not really an objection. It is a request for more information. The point to keep in mind is that there are only two kinds of objections:

Valid Objections: - I'm a size 18 this is a size 6, is a valid objection.

Invalid Objections: - Most common is "It costs too much." Or "Well, it sounds good, but I need to think about it before I spend that much."

In most cases this is not a valid objection. If they couldn't afford it why bother looking?

What they're really saying is, "You haven't shown me enough benefits to justify the price." If they really and truly can't afford it, then they’re not a valid customer.

You haven't lost anything. If they can't buy from you, they can't buy from the competition either.

5. Closing the Sale: 
The First Rule of Selling Anything:

"When logic and emotion come into conflict, emotion always wins."

If you think customers are going to sit down and make logical comparisons of the merits of your product or service against your are mistaken.

They’ll purchase on emotion and create a logical argument to justify their decision.

Remember the "fact-finding" section? This is where you show the benefits of the items, they said they wanted.

No one wants a one-inch drill bit, they want the benefit that the one-inch drill bit will give them. They want the one-inch hole.

As a result, price is seldom an issue. It is usually a defensive excuse or an invalid objection.

People buy benefits and benefits are almost always emotional. Benefits give a feeling of "well-being" and "well-being" is an emotional "feeling."

The Second Rule of Selling Anything: Ask for the order. The reason most often given by people for not buying is, "No one asked me to."

An easy way to ask is, "If you have your credit card handy, I can start processing your request."

Or “Would Tues. or Thurs. work best for delivery? If they say either date you’ve closed the sale.

Some Do's and Don'ts on The Phone

Have a pleasant and sincere, positive voice.

Have a smile on your face as you talk on the phone.

Work on your vocabulary. Remember, you're on the phone, you have to create a positive "mental picture" in the customer's mind of your product or service.

Don’t use industry jargon “I’ll have to fill out a ZPD form to get us started” or buzz words common to your business.

Synchronize your rate of speech with the rate of speech of the person to whom you're speaking. Don't talk too fast or too slowly.

If you’re calling them, ask if it’s a convenient time to talk.

Make your conversation brief, easy to understand, and to the point.

Make sure you have all the information in front of you to handle your customers questions.

If you have to put them on hold, you may lose them.

Don't ask anyone to place a call for you unless you’re ready to talk. The person on the other end of the line is busy too.

Don't do all the talking. Give the person on the other end of the line an opportunity to answer you, to ask questions, or to make comments.

Never interrupt your customer. Be as courteous voice-to voice as you would be face-to-face.

The Last Word About Selling on The Phone

The phone is instant communication. No waiting for it to boot up. Many customers are calling on an impulse.

They’ve developed a sudden need and want that need filled. You have a great opportunity to bring additional revenue to your business.

People buy where they feel comfortable and appreciated. Give them that feeling when they call. It's just common courtesy.

Based in Bozeman, MT, Tom Egelhoff is the author of, “The Small-Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less,” and "How to Market, Advertise and Promote Your Business or Service in Your Own Backyard." He is also a seminar and workshop presenter and trainer. He may be reached at 406-580-1104

Listen in on Tom's Saturday weekly radio show "Open For Business" on AM 1450 KMMS Radio, Bozeman. Have a business question for Tom? Click here to get Tom's advice for free.

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