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Ringing True

Three easy ways to sell better on the phone

Selling over the phone is never as easy as selling face to face. But even when you have a large number of calls to make in a small amount of time, the one thing you can do is build rapport.

Rapport is built on good listening skills and the ability to get the customer to talk. (Sometimes, a bit of humor comes in handy, too.) Most telemarketers are so busy following their own scripts, they never hear the customers' needs or desires. However, by following the "D-E-F" formula of telemarketing, you can get prospects to open up--and you'll achieve a more powerful, effective and efficient method of making the sale.

D: It's all in the details. People get calls from vendors all the time. What makes one telemarketer different from all the rest? More often than not, it's attention to detail. That attention could be really listening to what the prospect is saying, or it might even be sending a thank-you note after the call.

Ask your prospects "What's the greatest challenge you're facing right now?" Many times, their answers, such as "Finding a more economical way to ship my product," will tell you a great deal about their businesses. Sometimes, you'll get answers that have nothing to do with their businesses, like "Getting rid of my back pain." Whatever the answer, get off the phone and search for a newspaper or magazine article, or even information on the Internet--anything you can find to send with a note that says "Hope this helps. Speak to you soon." After that, you can bet you'll be the one telemarketer they're happy to speak to.

E: Second only to product knowledge, the most important asset telemarketers can have is enthusiasm. If there's any doubt your product is worth its price or suspicion that it's not what you claim it is, your prospects will sense it. It will come across in your inflection and tone. Of course, the opposite is true as well. When you believe in your product, your prospects believe in it, too. They trust that you know what you're talking about. Once you establish that belief, you're on your way to closing the sale.

Call satisfied customers and ask them why they like your product, why they do business with you and what the benefits are. This follow-up technique will pump up your enthusiasm. Plus, you can use their answers in the next step.

F: Telemarketers have probably heard every objection under the sun: "We're not interested." "We're happy with our present vendor." "It's too expensive." "We take care of it in-house." "I don't have time." You can't argue with any of these points; as soon as you do, you lose. That's when you should use the tried and true "feel, felt, found" method.

When you hear an objection, pause and let it sink in. Don't rush to answer. Listen carefully, then empathize with your prospect by saying "I understand how you feel" or "I can appreciate that." Then build on the success you've had with other customers by saying "Many of my present customers felt the same way. But when they found out how much time they saved using our system, they were amazed. I'd like to find out whether we can do the same for you." Of course, you would insert your own benefit statement. (This is where you should use the responses you got from the satisfied customers you talked to in step E.)

This method has been used over and over--and it works. But it doesn't work when you do it by rote. You've got to know your benefits inside and out. Practice using this technique until it sounds natural.

Ken Blanchard--also known as the "One-Minute Manager"--once told me that in today's business world, anyone can beat you on price. Many people can imitate your product or service. But one thing people can't do is take away the relationships you build with your prospects and customers. When prospects feel that what you're saying rings true, they'll be happy to have you call again.

Barry Farber is the author of 11 books on sales, management and peak performance. His latest release, "Diamond in the Rough" CD program, is based on his book, radio and television show. Visit him at www.BarryFarber.com, or email him at barry@barryfarber.com.

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This article was originally published in the March 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Ringing True.

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