If you have a B2C business in which you generate inbound sales calls, you know that a big chunk of your sales revenue depends on the effectiveness of your phone sales staff. That’s why coaching them to say the right thing can make a huge difference in your bottom line sales. Here are some tips based on research done by Tethr, a conversational analytics company based in Austin, Texas.
1. Quickly identify likely buyers
On average, about a third of incoming calls to a company’s sales team are not sales calls at all. Oftentimes, they are people looking for answers to customer service questions who have somehow ended up in the wrong queue. High performing sales agents are able to quickly identify these individuals and transfer them to the right department so they can concentrate on others who are more likely to buy something. Highly effective agents see their time as a precious resource and take steps to maximize it. Average-performing agents, on the other hand, take the time to try to resolve the customer’s issue, lowering their sales productivity.
2. Advise, don’t fish
Typically, about 40% of callers will be “shoppers,” people who may want to buy something but are not yet convinced. This group is where the real difference can be made in improving your closing ratio. Most sales training programs tell salespeople to fish for customer motivations by asking questions like “Why are you shopping for [product or service] today?” or “How much are you paying now for your [product or service]?” However, this research has shown that asking these types of questions actually has a negative effect on sales.
These potential customers are likely to have done some initial research online before calling and just have not yet made a firm decision, so they are actually further along in the buying process than the fishing questions assume. Rather than probing, effective sales people start off with a very general open-ended question like, “How can I help you today?”, listen to the response and then make a recommendation. This closes the decision loop and begins the closing process.
It is important to note that this is not the time to provide options, which increases indecision. Start with a recommendation, and then if it does not meet the prospect’s requirements, make another suggestion until one sticks.
3. Proactively address objections
Conventional wisdom tells salespeople to let the customer talk more and to listen. However, silence on the part of the sales rep is the biggest indicator that a sale is not going to close. Effective reps counter misunderstandings and objections as they come up in conversation, even if they have to interrupt the prospect to do so. By firmly but politely addressing these objections immediately, they are able to eliminate obstacles and doubt to bring the conversation closer to a sale.
4. Remove risk for a soft landing
If a customer is still hesitant at the end of the phone call, the biggest mistake a sales rep can make is to let them get off the phone to think it over or discuss it with a spouse. These customers are unlikely to call back and buy. Instead, at the end, high performing sales agents will remove the risk to make it easier for the prospect to say “yes.” This may be by reminding the prospect of a cancellation period, warranty or guarantee or by creating urgency around an expiring promo or price.
The research found that inbound sales reps who followed all four of these recommendations had a 70% closing ratio, compared to 5% who used none of these strategies. These tips can be used in any inbound sales call, whether it is to a busy call center or an outside sales rep, so incorporate this into your inbound sales training – you have everything to gain.