There’s an art to approaching customers over the phone. As a sales person, you probably have strong communication skills, but it only takes one wrong sentence to put a customer off. There are a few tried and tested rules when it comes to sales call etiquette that help build goodwill and keep the customer engaged.
1. Is this a good time to talk?
Half the success of your pitch depends on if you’ve caught your prospect at a good time. If a client is in the middle of a discussion or walking into a meeting, they won’t want to hear your pitch.
As a sales professional, you have to resist the urge to unload your pitch as soon as you can get customers on the phone. You need to walk the fine line between selling and coming across as pushy. On occasion, this may mean having to call back or reschedule for later in the week.
2. Keep it brief
Part of the reason salespeople dread giving the customer a way out is the risk that the callback may never happen. To sidestep this problem, ask prospects for 30 seconds of their time, set a timer, and stick to this limit. Unless they’re in a huge rush, most prospects will agree to give you half a minute to make your point.
Your goal for these 30 seconds is to present your product, highlight how the client stands to benefit, and reel them in by scheduling a longer follow-up conversation. Try and draw them into a more extended conversation if they have questions but keep your initial statement under the promised time limit.
3. Confidence and clarity
You often see beginners getting flustered by their time constraints and rushing through their calls. That desperation to speak quickly and fit as much information into your short window as possible is a bad strategy. While you want to sound excited when you talk about your product, you never want to come across as flustered or rushed.
So, when you’re on a sales call, speak slowly and with confidence. Start with basic introductions and draw the customer in by encouraging them to ask questions. Dumping a lot of information on an unsuspecting client doesn’t help anyone. Your goal is to have a two-way discussion and answer any questions they have.
4. Filler words
It is bad etiquette to use filler words or sounds on a sales call. That means things like “Uhh, hmm, like” or any variation of those. There’s also nothing more annoying than a salesperson smacking their lips or chewing gum over the phone. Ask for feedback on fillers from a coworker or sales lead if you can’t identify them yourself.
5. Background noise
Offices are often busy spaces with people moving across the floor and making multiple calls. As such, it’s not unusual to hear background noise in a sales call. But this is extremely off-putting for potential customers. If you want to see an immediate increase in your success rate, take steps to minimize noise over the phone.
That can mean moving away from the central workspace or finding a quiet corner. It shows your customer that they aren’t just a number on a sheet and that you care about that specific call. It also makes it easier to understand your points and gives your sales pitch an impact.
6. Phone signal
Sales teams don’t make all their calls from the office. Often you’re fielding calls outside, whether in your car or on the street. In times like these, not only is background noise a problem, but you may also have a poor phone signal. There’s nothing that works against your sales pitch like a voice that’s flickering in and out.
Clients will quickly become frustrated and cut the call. Make sure you’re near a cell tower before making a call, especially if you’re on the highway. Starting a call with two bars is also a bad idea because a middle strength signal can quickly drop to zero.
7. Treat each call like it’s the one
As a salesperson, you have to treat every call like it’s your last and every voice mail like it’s the one that will get you a callback. It doesn’t matter whether you make 100 or 200 calls in a day. There will be times when you won’t get any callbacks for three or four days straight. But that should never push over in your calls.
A fundamental aspect of sales calls etiquette is presenting your pitch with enthusiasm and confidence. That’s easier said than done when you have to repeat it over and over again, but the moment you begin to sound tired or uninterested is the moment you guarantee no client is going to call you back.
8. Don’t use a script
Using a script for a call or a voicemail will, without fail, nine times out of ten, come across as disingenuous and unimpressive. As a salesperson, you need to sound like the authority on your product. Using a script makes it seem like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Having talking points is fine as long as you don’t start to sound rehearsed.
You have to look at things from the client’s perspective. A customer wants to buy a product from an expert who knows everything there is to know about the item and can speak freely. You need to convince your prospects to trust you, and using a script is not the way to go.
9. Research, research, research
The first rule of being on a sales team is never going in unprepared. You don’t want to be the salesperson who calls a prospect and asks them what kind of business they’re in. Before you ever make a call, find out what kind of business they run, who their clients are, what their budget is, and why they’re likely to be interested in the service you are offering.
Using this information in your initial pitch is a good way of hooking prospects. It lets them know that you did your research and are interested in their company. These facts are often easily available on the company’s social media accounts or through a quick Google search. It’s a small time commitment for a huge payoff.
10. Focus on the client
In the initial stages, you’ll want to focus on the client and what they want. After you highlight the benefits of your product, let the prospect talk about their goals and issues. Don’t start rattling off a list of features or statistics they have no interest in.