The top sales performing businesses understand how very important the telephone is as a selling tool.They understand:
- Customers and prospects telephone the business because they have a need, problem or want.
- Many times the telephone conversation determines whether the prospect becomes a customer or whether the customer remains a customer of the business.
- The person answering the telephone is a very important provider of customer service for the organization.
- The person answering the telephone has a great opportunity to gain customers and obtain sales.
Applying the telephone customer service skills in this white paper will help you and your organization become a professional provider of quality customer service that will gain and retain customers for a lifetime of profits.
Telephone Skills 1: Answering the telephone8% of customers leaving a business leave because of lack of caring expressed or lack of perceived caring from you or someone in the company.
Callers begin to form their impression of your organization by the number of rings it takes to get an answer and the first voice they hear.
- Answer the telephone within the first three rings
- Greet the caller
- State your organization's name and your name
- Offer assistance, invite questions
- Use friendly phrases
- Thank them for calling
- How may I help you?
- How are you today? Example: "Good morning, Sales Growth Now. This is Bob Janet, how may I help you?"
Telephone Skills 2: Listening for selling opportunitiesYour organization is in the business of selling products and services. Most customers telephone because they have a problem or need your products and services will solve. All you have to do is listen and identify the problem / need they have and match your products and services to them.
- Listen to what the customer is saying. They are either (a) making a statement about their problems/needs,(b) giving you an objection to something they have already purchased or (c) asking you a question concerning their problems/needs.
- Think about what they are saying. Think about what your organization has to offer the customer to solve their problem/need. If you are 100% Customer-Centered* you want to solve their problem/need the easiest way for them, but that does not mean you cannot sell them your products and services.
- Make suggestions in the form of choices. Choices of your products and services that will solve their problem/need. Giving choices is the easiest way to ask for the sale. Giving choices (a) gives the customer the feeling of control, and people buy and buy more when they feel they are in control and b) makes it easy for the customer to choose to buy from you instead of your competition.
- Always Smile!! Face-to-face your voice accounts for only 33% of your effectiveness. In a telephone greeting your voice accounts for 84% of your effectiveness.
- Listening for closing statements: After you offer suggestion in the form of choices of products/services, listen for the customer to make a closing statement. Examples: "That will work." "I never thought of that." "How much will that cost me?" "How soon can you deliver?" Any positive statement made by the customer, after you gave them a choice of solutions to their problems/needs, is a closing statement.
Sure, not all closing statements by the customer will close the sale, but as one of the coaches to the famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky said to him when he was frustrated with Gretzky's lace of shooting in an important game, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."
Telephone Skill 3: Asking questions
- Be eager to help the caller.
- Be animated.
- Make the caller feel welcome.
- Make them feel they are the most important person in your life. If you re 100% Customer-Centered* they will perceive they are the most important person in your life at that time.
- Ask questions that will help the caller explain the problems/needs they have. Questions that give you an understanding of exactly what they want and need from your organization. Examples:
"Mr. James, what is it about the ____________ that I can help you with?"
"Mr. James, you said you need your _________ repaired. How old is your __________?"
"So I can better help you, what exactly are your needs for a ________________?"
Telephone Skill 4: Furthering the saleIf you do not sell them over the telephone, further the sale by making an appointment to meet with them, having an outside sales professional telephone or meet with them, or asking their permission to send information.
Always give the prospect a choice. It gives them the feeling of control, and they cannot say "NO" when given a choice.
"Would you like to meet with me Monday or Tuesday?" If they do not choose one of the times continue to give them choices.