Inbound Selling – Part 2: Create and SLA with Your Prospect: Smile, Listen, Advance
In Part 2 of Call Center Sales, we’ll pick up where we left off in Part 1. You’re leading the call, driving the conversation by asking questions, keeping it conversational, and making sure your customer is with you as you navigate a solution and resolution to their questions.
To listen to the full episode, check out sALES with ASLAN podcast #39:
Or read on as we discuss some of the challenges you might face that are specific to inbound phone sales.
Keep Your SMILE on the 60th Call
One challenge that we’ve all faced as call center reps is navigating the sheer volume of phone conversations throughout the day. This is where mindset comes into play. Remember that while it could be your 60th phone call of the day, it is likely your customer’s first, and potentially only, call to you this year.
So, your mindset becomes a decision. Before you pick up the phone, take a breath. Smile. It starts with you. People can actually hear a smile in your voice over the phone. Many call centers even have mirrors for reps to utilize as a tool.
Take your time, make it fun, try to learn something new, and to the degree you can, make each call a unique experience for you and your customer. Decide that you’re going to serve the customer as best you can.
LISTENing For What You Can’t See
Another challenge that’s unique to phone sales is the inability to see your customer and read their body language. We know that up to 90% of communication is nonverbal. Think of this as the “metamessage.” So how do we overcome this challenge in phone sales? What can we listen for? How do we show the customer that we really do hear them and do acknowledge them?
On the phone, when you can’t see someone nodding along or making eye contact, conveying interest and attention verbally becomes even more important. Acknowledge and prove that you’re actively listening to your customer.
Reassure them that you’re with them on the line every step of the conversation. Demonstrate that they have your attention, comment on what they share with you and ask clarifying questions. Say things like:
“You mentioned ________. Can you tell me a little more about that?” or “That’s interesting,” and “What do you mean by that?”
Part of the reason we do this is to get those important details from the customer, so that you, the sales rep, can make the best recommendation for them. The other part is about reassuring the customer that you’re an active participant in the exchange, even when they’re doing the talking. When you repeat back to the prospect what you heard them convey and they say “exactly right,” you know you’re there.
ADVANCE by softening the “Hard Sell”
Another challenge specific to phone sales lies in directing the conversation to its closing stages. Normally, with an in-person interaction, you can see/ observe visual cues that signal a shift in conversation. Someone will lean forward, or turn a page and make eye contact. These gestures soften and announce the transition to the customer.
On the phone, communicating the shift in conversation is slightly more difficult, but equally as important. So, be sure to prep your customer – prime them for a transition in the conversation, let them know you’re about to circle back to their initial question and take the conversation full circle.
When you’ve finished the “discovery” portion of the call and asked your customer those relevant and clarifying questions, let them know you’re transitioning by saying something like:
“Based on all of this, I’ve got some ideas and recommendations, would you be open to me sharing them?”
Or maybe you feel like it’s time to schedule a customized demonstration of your company’s capability. You might say:
“Based on what I have learned, would it make sense to demonstrate how we’ve helped companies like yours address some of these challenge areas?”
Remember, in any conversation, the person asking the questions is in the driver’s seat. As the sales rep, that role is yours. And to continue the driving metaphor, as you steer the conversation and shift gears, ensure your customer is still with you by asking another question. By getting their permission for the shift – (“Would you be open to me sharing?”) – you’ve given them the freedom to choose, the option to take the journey with you – and in turn, they’ll be more receptive to your ideas and recommendations because of this.
After sharing your ideas, “check your six.” Look behind you, so to speak. Make sure your customer is still with you, throughout the entire exchange, especially after sharing your recommendation. On the phone, without visual insight into your customer’s mindset, you accomplish this by asking another question.
Closing is more about timing than technique, so don’t ask for a hard commitment too early – avoid asking a close-ended question. Try something like the following:
“Hey, I’ve talked a lot, does that all make sense? Are you following me? How does that meet with your expectations? Is there anything beneficial there? Talk to me.”
By cultivating this Other-Centered® approach throughout the call, we can transcend the unique challenges that we’re presented with as Call Center Sales reps.
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