Often I write about inbound call centers, but a big part of my experience in call centers is in creating outbound sales, and that includes crafting presentations that get results. My experience writing oubound presentations includes JC Penney (insurance), Sears, timeshare vacations (yeah, I know!), Bell Canada, magazine subscriptions, as well as B2B calls such as promotional gifts to small business, enterprise technology solutions, and more.
So yesterday I received a call at home from someone who wanted to sell me new doors. I didn’t make a purchase because the sales agent (or her script) didn’t compel me to buy from her. And while I couldn’t provide sales coaching on that particular call (I do that on occasion to folks who have called me), I do want to use her call as an opportunity to share some essential points of getting past the crucial first 7 seconds of a call. If you don’t follow them, you’ll still get sales provided you call enough people. If you do follow them, you’ll get a lot more. Guaranteed.
Her reason for calling me was one I often hear. “We’re in your neighborhood.” Companies use it because it suggests urgency, and hints that the “opportunity” might be lost. The problem is that this isn’t a compelling reason from my point of view. That her company was in my neighborhood (for example) was compelling from her point of view, but that didn’t matter to me. As a recipient of an outbound call, I’m asking, “Why are you choosing now to call?” and “Why are you calling me?” You have to answer these questions immediately, and with my needs in mind, or your call won’t last very long.
Effective Answers to this question have two qualities:
- They Are true (Starting a relationship with a lie rarely increases business over the long term. ‘Nuf said).
- They are benefit statements. Benefit statements don’t tell me the what of your call (“I’m calling to let you know that our door-installers are in your neighborhood, so I’m calling to set up an appointment.”), they tell me the why. “I’m calling to save you money on the cost of heating / air conditioning your home.” I want to save money on energy in my home, so I’ll want to listen to you. That’s a much more compelling reason for me to listen to you than because you’re in my neighborhood.
Permission to Continue
Asking permission to continue with the call (immediately after “wowing” me with a killer benefit statement) is a really important component of any outbound call, and is often omitted to the detriment of results. Asking permission to continue places control of the call firmly in your hands by making me (your soon-to-be customer) admit that I need the solution you’re offering. As well, from a psychology of sales point of view, I’m admitting to myself that I want to hear you. By getting me to give you permission to continue, you are well on your way to closing the sale.
And if I decline permission, you wouldn’t have gotten the sale anyway. Reschedule and call back at a better time.
Connecting the Benefit to your Solution
Here you need to connect your solution to my problem. In the example of the door sales-call, most people don’t know that old doors are significant sources of heat / air conditioning loss, and often drive up costs of maintaining a home. In this example, linking the problem (“Too much money on home heating”), to the solution (“Buy my doors”), will bring you to the next stage in the call. An effective phrase might be, “Many people aren’t aware that by simply replacing old doors with energy-saving ones can reduce your home energy cost by up to X percent.”
At this point, it’s crucial that you follow up with a question that let’s me qualify myself as a person in need of your solution. In the example of the door sales-call, the question could be, “Have you had your doors replaced within the last 7 years?” My answer to that question allows me to tell myself, “No, I haven’t! Holy cripes! I need to do that!”
Beyond the First 7 Seconds
After you’ve successfully completed the first 7 seconds, I will probably give you rebuttals. This is good, because it means I’m engaging with you. Effectively countering rebuttals means listening to them, acknowledging them, and then responding to them in a way that makes sense to me. An effective approach often sounds like, “I can appreciate that,” And then continues to address my question.
So regardless of whether your company is a small neighborhood service company, or a large high-tech firm, applying the above principles consistently to your phone presentations will improve your sales.
If you’d like input on how your outbound scripts might be improved, call me or email me by clicking here.
Oh – and please leave a comment if you like. I’d love to hear your thoughts.