Sales – Cold Calling

Out of all the wondrous facets of selling, cold calling has to rate as the single most hated of all. I have often been curious as to reason out why this is the case. I carved out my career in this world of selling on the back of the fact that I truly loved to cold call. Where others around me would spend their days schmoozing their existing clients in the vain hope of persuading one or two to increase their order, I would be consistently bringing in three, four or even five brand new orders in the same space of time.

In this article, I will take a brief look at one of the main factors that determines cold calling success.

Too Good to be True

Has anyone ever offered you something that just seemed too good to be true? If so, what did you do? Most people assume that it is too good to be true and refuse to have anything to do with it. This is because when the sales person offered it, he or she failed to understand and follow the basic principles behind the psychology of the sale.

You see the thing with people, humans, is that we have only really, in evolutionary terms, just come down from the trees. We possess a primeval inbuilt sense that alerts us to any potential danger which we tend to follow. This is because it was not too long ago that we may well have ended up getting eaten if we did not follow its guidance.

This inbuilt warning system constantly checks everything around us for any signs of danger. It has learned to identify anything that is new as potentially hazardous. All this happens at the subconscious level. We live in an advanced society, however, and our defenses often hold us back when in reality we would be better off going forward.

No thank you, you might be a hungry lion!

So what has all this got to do with sales and telesales? The answer is everything! When you speak to a complete stranger on the telephone, their inner warning system is automatically in a heightened state of awareness because they do not know who you are or what it is that you want with them. If you do not learn to manage this then all you will ever experience is rejection. That is because each persons inbuilt warning system is telling them that something about you and your call does not seem right. So the subconscious reasons to itself that it will be safer to have nothing to do with you, thank you very much.

The problem is that most people will never tell you this and so you come away from the call none the wiser. They may say any number of things to you, but they will not tell you the truth which is that inside they have been put into fight or flight mode and so they are choosing the latter. In reality, all that happened is that the sales person has neglected to reassure the prospects inner defense mechanism that there was no threat.

The first seven seconds

You may have heard it said that people make up their mind about you on the telephone in about seven seconds. I do not claim any empirical knowledge of this; however, it is abundantly clear that the reason behind it is the inner defense system. If we can reassure our prospects subconscious that we pose no threat then we stand a very good chance of getting our full presentation out, which in turn, gives us the best possible chance of securing a sale.

Steps to the Sale

So how do we combat this? The answer is simply that we meticulously adhere to the steps of the sale. These are steps that you must take in order to ensure maximum chances of success. The primary steps are all geared to getting past that inner defense mechanism. When you follow these, the prospect will normally allow you to deliver your full pitch. Of course this is not always the case, but that is another story. By understanding and following the steps of the sale we learn to reassure the potential customer that we are actually trying to help instead of harm them.

These are the initial steps:

o Rapport

We must establish a rapport with the prospect.

o Reason

We must establish a clear and valid reason for our call

o Credibility

We must establish the credibility of ourselves and our company to the prospect

A simpler way of saying this is to say that we must establish:

i. who we are,

ii. what we want, and

iii. why the prospect should deal with us.

So there you have it. Clearly, within the confines of this article, I have not been able to go into any depth at all but by just being aware of your prospect’s inner defenses, you will automatically begin to adapt your cold calls to ensure that you at least get your pitch out to them instead of having the other person just hang up on you.

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Who is the Best Telephone Sales Rep?

What makes a great telephone sale representative? Is it personality or skill, luck of the territory or the ability to keep grinding out those dials? The answer lies in a careful analysis of what the sales assignment requires. It is not uncommon for a telephone sales person who has been very successful in one position to be mediocre or even fail in another.

Creating a great telephone or inside sales rep starts before the hiring process begins. Management must have a clear sense of what the position will entail. This is accomplished by considering the objective of the position and what behaviors are needed to achieve this. Ask yourselves what the person will need to do to in order to achieve their goals.

Prospecting and customer sales positions have very different emphasis. Although certain traits are shared, it can be very difficult for a customer sales person, who regularly handles repeat business, to emotionally deal with the frustrations of the prospecting process, particularly if it is a long closing cycle. Customer reps like the positive affirmations that come regularly with their job. These affirmations come from either customers who purchase with relative frequency or from the satisfaction of keeping a customer happy with their attention and service. At the same time, a rep who has spent a lot of time prospecting, may find it difficult to maintain the service orientated relationship that customer sales entails. They may look for a quick result and move on.

In addition to a higher tolerance for rejection, a prospecting project will require an emphasis on a high amount of dials. The more one is shot down, the more calls one must make.

However, it is important to note that a customer sales assignment may still require a high amount of dials. In order to increase productivity, often the easiest way to do so is to increase the number of dials each day. This means that the customer sales rep must be able to stay focused enough to achieve their sales goals. It is easy for customer sales reps to make “busy work” and hand holding fill their days while convincing themselves they are being productive. This can lull management into a false sense of security. Without sales results, however, the customer sales rep is not being effective. Remember, whether a customer sales rep or prospecting sales rep, in the end they must be accountable for measurable results.

Take stock of the selling techniques that your inside sales assignment requires. Tangibles are different from intangibles. For some, it will be simpler to sell a physical product, like a pen or a machine or a car. Although purchasing over the telephone, buyers in many cases can sample the product: see, touch, use their own senses to compliment what the sales person has been saying. In selling a service, the inside rep must be able to create the experience solely with their words over the telephone. Again, these are two different skill sets.

Another difference between prospecting and customer sales can often be found in the compensation structure. Sales management must be vigilant that they are rewarding correct behaviors.

High producing sales reps are motivated by money. They will carry out activities on the job that directly affect their income. If they don’t see a process or procedure as contributing to that, a manager will inevitably have problems with sales reps complying. Many customer sales reps are less motivated by money per se, but will want to see rewards and recognition for their work.

If you are a small company, don’t fall in love with the idea of hiring from large “name” companies. Often, these reps have been used to a level of support that you will be unable to provide. During the interview process make sure the candidate sales rep understands what working for your organization will be like. Although someone from a larger concern can bring with them ideas and a different viewpoint, if they are not willing to make changes to their office lifestyle, you may just find yourself with a disgruntled rep who will look for the first opportunity to get back to a larger firm.

A careful analysis of all these factors will help management create a profile of the experiences and traits a telephone sales person will need to succeed in your organization. So, who is the best telephone sales representative? The one who is best for your company.

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