Inbound Selling – Part 1: A 15 Second Solution to Selling More in a Call Center

If you run an inbound sales organization, or if you make a living selling on the phone, you know the biggest obstacle to upselling happens in the first 15 seconds of the call. Although all “genres” of sales share common themes and techniques across the board, there are some key differences to selling in an inbound, call center environment that we’ll address here today.

Based on the nature of the situation, we tend to view inbound sales as reactive. The phone rings, the sales rep answers, the customer poses a question. But the key to overcoming the challenges of inbound phone selling actually lies in overcoming that instinct to simply react. We need to shift our perspective, our mentality, and our response accordingly. As sales reps, we need to take the exchange from reactive to directed (we need to drive)!

In any given conversation, who is leading? It’s the person asking the questions. As the person best equipped to help the customer navigate the information and make the best decision, that person should be the sales rep.

So, the phone rings and you answer. Your customer leads with, “I have a question.”

Your customer wants to boil it down – they just want the answer to their question.

But if we only answer their initial question, we can get stuck. We waste time with technical explanations and once we answer their question, the customer is ready to end the call. We’ve lost control of the call, as well as the opportunity to uncover additional needs and offer recommendations.

Why? Because we answered their first question.

So, how can we circumnavigate this? How can we take control of the exchange without looking like we’re seizing control and ignoring their question?

Basically, taking back the reins involves three simple steps:

  1. Acknowledge
  2. Give the Other-Centered® Roadmap
  3. Ask Permission

It’s important to make this transition as quickly and naturally as possible. While we don’t want to answer the customer’s question right off the bat and lose control of the conversation, we do want to acknowledge it before proceeding.

Here’s how that on-the-phone interaction might go:

Your customer asks, “What are the differences between these two products?”

Reply by acknowledging their question, while transitioning the flow of the conversation. Say something like:

“Well, there are a few differences that I will definitely go over with you, but just to make sure I’m making it relevant and being efficient with our time, would it be okay if I asked you a few questions? And then we can break it down together?”

This accomplishes steps 1, 2 and 3. You’ve acknowledged their question, you’ve given them the roadmap, or plan, for the conversation, and you’ve asked their permission to continue.

The Other-Centered® Roadmap lets them know you have their best interest at heart. It tells them that you’re going to answer their question and give them the most relevant information to their situation, once you learn a little bit more about them. It tells them where you’re going to take the conversation and why it’s in their best interest to let you lead. As a rep who has these conversations all day, you know the best and most efficient way to help solve the customer’s problem. And ultimately, by asking their permission, you’ve ensured that they’re engaged throughout the exchange with you.

Throughout the call, make sure you’re keeping it conversational. Focus on uncovering what your customer really needs, not just what they explicitly ask for. Be a human communicator, not a robot. Scripted sounds scripted, and this hurts your credibility.

So, the next time the phone rings, take a breath. Smile. And have fun with it.

In Part 2 of Call Center Sales, we cover more about phone sales etiquette and discuss some of the challenges you may face that are specific to inbound phone sales, as well as how to transition the phone conversation to close the sale.

For more on this subject, listen to our sALES with ASLAN podcast #39. And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to have updates delivered straight to your inbox.

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