Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How Can You Be More Effective When Doing Sales Calls?

Make More Effective Sales Calls
We are living in an age in which many things have changed thanks to technological advances. One of those things is the sales process, ie the work you have to perform to approach people with the desire to share with them information about your products or services, and convince them to buy from you.

Some years ago, I can’t remember how many, the only way for a sales rep to approach a client was either stopping by their offices directly, or contacting them by phone.

And after that all the tools we are so familiar with today started to show up progressively, being the first one the fax machine, and then moving on to electronic mail (email) and, more recently, all digital platforms we know of.

What’s the difference between then and now? That today you don’t need to see your customer or prospect’s face or listen to its voice in order to get in touch. Digital platforms have enabled us to do so, and nowadays you can contact everyone within your network even if you're lying flat at your home, having an horrendous cold and can barely speak.

The only thing you need to do is to sit in front of your computer and you can maintain relaxed conversations with all your contacts, without even having to bother about what shirt color to wear, if you need a haircut, or if you are just not in the mood to talk to anyone.

And this is as bad as it is good because, somehow, has made us put aside the face-to-face contact and phone calling our customers and prospects, both of which I believe continue to be the best opportunities you may have to deliver a very positive impact to the person on the other side.

While some people say "dog is man's best friend", I would have to say that "the phone is every sales representative's best friend. Why?

Why is the phone every sales representative's best friend?

Sales calls are usually very comforting, especially when they go well. When they do not, then can become quite frustrating and discouraging. It’s normal. After all, no vendor likes to have a customer giving him a hard time over the phone. Or does it?

However, in despite of these type of situations (which happen very rarely), the phone is a powerful tool which allows you to transmit your personal charm, at those times when a face to face contact is not possible.

Over the phone you can feel and measure emotions on the other side, you can be understanding, caring, create empathy, things that through other platforms are impossible to achieve, except in a personal visit.

Only the phone or a personal visit allows you to effectively exchange emotions and feelings with your customers and prospects.

Hasn’t it happened to you when receiving messages through WhatsApp, for instance, that you believe a person is upset about something, when really it isn’t so? Or you believe someone is acting in a sarcastic manner, when it is not that person’s intention?

When you talk on the phone with your customers and prospects, you establish a dynamic conversation, a real-time, live moment of sharing points of view, relevant and not so relevant information and, if you have the habit of listening actively, you can also discover many other things which will definitely go unnoticed if you were to  replace phone calls with an email, or something less personal.

However, in despite of all the positive things the phone can offer to improve sales representatives’ performance, there are some guidelines you should take into consideration in order to be more effective when making sales calls.

Like many things in life, it all begins with doing proper planning.

That's it. Perhaps you are wondering: "How's it that sales call should also be planned?" And, since phone calls are an investment not only of your time, but also that of your interlocutor, they must have a goal that is mutually beneficial, otherwise why would someone be interested in starting the conversation?

Properly planning sales calls guarantees you’ll be achieving your best results.

While planning each sales call you’ll be able to, for instance, anticipate possible questions your customers might bring up and have available all information required to offer proper answer. You’ll also be able to familiarize yourself with the company you are going to contact, if it were an initial approach, or to get to know a little more closely the profile of the person you’re going to be talking with.

You can even establish what goals you hope to achieve in each call, or what minimum goals should be achieved so that you can consider it a productive one, just in case things don’t go as expected.

Therefore, the first thing to do to make a more effective job while doing sales calls is to properly plan them.

Stay away from stereotypes and strive always to be yourself.

In last week's post, I commented that "above everything else, we are human beings" and it’s a reality equally important in our professional environment, or at least it should be.

We are all familiar with, and have come across that charming, witty and humorous character: the professional sales guy. And many people would like to be like him, so nice and pleasant. However, if your nature isn’t so extroverted, then you’re better off not trying to imitate him, because at some point people are going to notice.

Although the monkey wears a silk dress, it continues to be a monkey. For there to be true empathy, there must be authenticity. Be always yourself.

Also remember that you're interacting with another human being, just like you. It only happens that, at this particular time, your interlocutor is acting as a customer or prospect, and nothing else. When that person leaves its work, for sure it has the same interests and concerns you may have, or might be going through a very difficult situations. That you don’t know.

And not because it is your customer or prospect, the issue is any different. By being authentic you'll have a better opportunity to build a lasting relationship based on mutual trust.

The only way to get answers is to ask proper questions.

People say "he who wants a kiss, must aim for the lips" and that’s why, if you want to know something about your prospect, ask the questions you should ask to get the information you need.

Obviously you must be tactful and maintain a respectful attitude towards the person you’re talking with, but only making questions you’ll get the answers you’re looking for.

When you want to know something for sure, don’t hammer your head on the wall and do the right questions.

People do not buy products, but solutions to their problems, therefore, an excellent opening question is always: "How can we be of help?" Or something to convey your intention to be helpful rather than your desire to make money.

In addition, asking questions invites conversation and exchange, while showing a genuine interest on your side to better understand your client’s specific situation, and that's always highly valued.

Do not rely solely on your memory and take notes.

Since we're always so busy, I wouldn’t trust so much on my ability to remember each and every little thing covered on every sales call. Imagine for a moment that in one day you get in touch with 10 or 15 different people, how are you going to do to remember everything?

Well, quite simple, I do take notes. Also, if you make it an habit to tell your interlocutor during the call if it allows you to take notes because you consider what you guys are going to be talking about is important to you, you probably will make the other person feel great, and that generates positive energies.

Many things can be said on any sales call. By taking notes you’ll be able to easily remember the details.

For me it is an habit to take notes on each meeting with prospects and customers. This way, I can always have a backup of things said and agreed upon, can refer to them when necessary and build, at the same time, a small history of my relationship with each of them.

Taking notes properly, you will be sure you’re not leaving any details on no man's land, and you’ll be able to accurately reconstruct the conversation you had with the client when back at the office, working on the proposal.

As you can see, four simple recommendations that will help you, for sure, to be more effective when making sales calls. They’ll also make you feel more prepared when facing the phone: plan your calls adequately, always be authentic and genuine, ask the questions you need to ask to better understand your customer’s situation, and get used to making notes of all relevant points covered.

Can you think of anything else that could help you make it even more efficiently?

Photo credit: lassedesignen | See portfolio

You might also be interested in reading the following posts:
How To Create A Sales Plan For Your Business?
Cold Calling Sales: Where Can You Start From?

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