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Top Ten Components of Successful Inbound Calls

by Hilton Johnson
The Sales Coach


1. The Real Objective
It's amazing how much money some companies invest to generate prospect call-ins only to have the sales rep blow it when they pick up the phone. Most salespeople don't have a clue as to what they should be focused on during the sales dialogue exchange.

The first problem lies in the salesperson not having a specific objective in mind once the prospect has been identified as being qualified. Is the goal to get a face-to-face appointment? Is the goal to send the prospect company material? Is the goal to sell and close the prospect on this single encounter?

Whatever the objective, the first step in taking full advantage of inbound calls is to know exactly what you want the ideal outcome to be and focus on achieving that goal throughout the call.

It's also a good idea to have an alternate objective if goal one is not obtainable. For example, if ideally, you want to make an appointment but cannot get one, you could suggest sending them the company material with perhaps an appointment to follow up later.

This seems like such a logical system to have and do but like I said, it's amazing how some salespeople blow it by not focusing on the real objectives of what to do when a prospect calls in for information.

2. GratiControl
This crazy word has a duel purpose: First, to put the prospect at ease by a: thanking him or her for calling you and b: quickly agreeing to comply fully with their request (which is usually a request for more information).

Your response to their request could sound something like this: "Thanks for calling. I'll be happy to provide you with that information."

The second purpose of GratiControl is for you to establish control of the call. Regardless of what the prospect says to you when you answer the phone, you warmly and friendly take control by simply saying: "Well, first of all, I want to thank you for calling. I'll be happy to help you any way I can."

3. The Source
Tracking the source of your marketing efforts will tell you what is working and what is not. Major advertising companies don't commit their clients to large advertising and marketing budgets without doing small tests first. Why should you be any different?

The first step to testing your marketing is to track the source of every call-in; tally the number of calls; leads generated and of course, sales made.

To elicit the call source, simply ask, "Oh, by the way, how did you hear about us?" (Write their answer down immediately on your tracking form. What? You don't have a tracking form? Shame on you!)

4. The Name And Number
Somewhere in your telephone presentation, you will want to get the prospect's name and phone number. This is for obvious reasons.

There are three qualities that top-notch salespeople seem to have that allow them to easily get a call-in prospect's name and phone number.

a. They get the name early in the call. They know that the earlier in the conversation that they attempt to get the name and number, the easier it is to get.
b. They go for the name as an after-thought and in a very personable way: "Oh, I'm sorry. I almost forgot…my name is Al Bendover, what's yours?"
c. They keep making attempts at things they want. If the prospect is reluctant to give their name at first, the pro says, "That's no problem. Just so I have a name to call you, what's your first name?" They keep making attempts during the exchange (sometimes with humor) until they get a name.
Once you get their name, it's easy (trust me on this) to get their phone number. Use their first name and ask, "And (Barbara) what's that number there just in case?" (They almost never ask, "In case of what?" But if they do, you say, "In case we get disconnected.")

Now that the initial sales resistance barrier has been broken, you have their name, number and control of the call, it's now time to get down to business.

5. Invite Questions
The next step is to size up the prospect while at the same time honoring their request for more information. So you ask: "What would you like to know; how can I help you; what questions do you have; or something like that.

Briefly, and I mean VERY briefly, answer all of their questions. (Remember the goal of the call is to get an appointment.)

6. Invite More Questions
Most likely, you don't want to give a full presentation over the telephone. It is important, however, to freely give the prospect any information requested by him or her as a way of diffusing any sales resistance they may have initially.

Also, by allowing them to feel in control by asking you questions, they will actually be setting the stage for you to ask them some questions.

So, it's good to have them talking. To encourage more questions you just keep asking things like: "What other questions do you have; what else would you like to know; how else can I help you?" And throughout this dialogue exchange, the prospect is feeling honored, comfortable and in total control of the call.

Now the stage has been set for an important question of your own.

7. The Attraction Question
You do not want your prospect to hang up the phone until you have asked this question: "What was it about the (ad, material, brochure, cassette, package, etc.) that attracted your attention?"

Listen very, very carefully to how they respond to this question. You want to listen for dissatisfactions they have--especially problems concerning their lifestyle, income, freedom, security, peace-of-mind and social life.

As they respond to this question, it's a good idea to write down the key words and phrases you hear that indicate what their "hot buttons" are. (I like to write down pain on the left side of my pad and motivations on the right side of my pad.)

The reason this question is so important is that if your product or service can help them solve some of their problems, the odds are very good that the two of you will do some business.

The reason for this is that, selling is not about features and benefits--it's about helping people get out of pain.

This is one of the really great secrets to high-level professional selling today, and I might add; only a handful of people know how to do it.

Listening for two or three strong needs (pain), will give you the perfect opportunity to ask a very powerful magical question that I call…

8. The Basic Qualifying Question (BQQ)
Let's say that the ideal goal of the call is to get a face-to-face appointment. All you have to do is take the two or three dissatisfactions expressed by the prospect and ask him or her a question that addresses those concerns.

Example:
"Barbara, you told me that you feel that you're not earning the amount of money you're worth; you don't have the freedom that you'd like to have; and you don't like the people you're working with. Did I hear you right? (She will say yes. Now comes the actual BQQ:)

"Well, let me ask you this Barbara: If you were absolutely convinced that my company's home-based business opportunity would provide you with the income you need; the freedom you want; and at the same time, allow you to choose the people you want to work with, would you meet with me for thirty to forty minutes to see the program?"

You can be sure that Barbara will say yes to this question.

9. Close On The Calendar
Now it's time to close for the appointment (or whatever your objectives are).

After your prospect says 'yes' to the BQQ, you say: "Fine. Barbara, may I make a suggestion? (She will say yes.) Why don't we look at our calendars and set a time that's convenient for both of us to get together…okay?"

Need I say more?

10. The Easy Exit
One of the most effective strategies you can use when talking with prospects is to make it easy for them to say no to you. I mean it. In fact, it's even more effective to "say no for them." Here's why and also how you do it:

Let's say that as you're answering your prospect's questions an objection or a little resistance pops up. Normally you would want to defend the objection, especially if you knew the objection wasn't justified, right?

Wrong. It's better to do the exact opposite of what most other salespeople would do by taking it away from them. Then the moment of truth takes place.

Here's what you say when you get some hesitation, resistance or an objection:
"Well Barbara, this is probably not for you then. Shall I close your file?"

Pow! Right between the eyes! You'll be amazed (there's that word again) at how many people will, all of a sudden, become more positive to your proposal as a result of their fear of losing out on something. Try and "sell" your proposal and you sound just like every other pushy, aggressive salesperson that they've been trying to avoid.



Hilton Johnson, The Sales Coach, is the founder of Sales University -- a sales training firm specializing in "Sales Coaching For People Who Don't Like Selling."

For an email subscription to the free monthly "Sales Coach" Newsletter or to participate in a free introductory class by teleconference on "Selling By Attraction," please visit the Sales University website at http://www.salesu.com

Sales University
Phone: 954-491-8996
Fax: 954-491-7647
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.salesu.com


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