4 Ways to Close More Inbound Sales Calls

Inbound sales rep

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.

If you are interested in increasing your sales, contact Pro Creative for a free consultation. For free inbound sales rep training, you can visit Hubspot.

Picking the right typography

typography

How do you choose the typography that is used for your marketing and sales materials? Do you choose the font style that you like the best personally? Do you look for one that goes with the rest of your graphic imaging for the brand? Do you just leave it up to your graphic designer? Believe it or not, the typography you choose can make a big difference.

Slanted text vs. upright

A February 2020 study published by the Journal of Retailing shows that picking the right typography can make a significant difference in the results of limited time sales promotions.

In the study, participants were shown two print ads that were identical except for the font. Both promoted a limited-time offer for a $10 promotional credit for every $50 gift card purchase. One one ad, the font was Times New Roman and on the other it was italic Times New Roman. Participants who viewed the italicized ad thought that the promotion had a much sooner expiration date than those who saw the same ad with a regular vertical font.

Another similar experiment had two ads for a Mexican restaurant limited time promotion, with one of the ads using an italicized font. When asked when they planned to visit the restaurant, most of those who saw the ad with the italicized font said they intended to visit the restaurant sooner than the group who saw the ad with the regular font.

A third experiment used email for a limited time offer of $4 for a $5 value gift card, with a link to claim the offer. Some of the recipients got the email with a regular font and others got it with a slanted font. The vast majority of the people who responded to the ad were in the group who got the italicized message.

So the bottom line is that using italics can:

  • Increase the sense of urgency in regard to a promotion
  • Speed up intent to purchase
  • Increase response rate

From a neuromarketing perspective, the rightward slant of italicized text signals the need to act quickly when paired with a limited-time promotion. This could be because it activates FOMO (fear of missing out) or because it visually suggests movement and speed and activates viewers’ mirror neurons.

Upper case vs. lower case

In regard to typography, lowercase text is more legible, more inviting and easier and quicker to read and understand. Uppercase text is commonly used in announcements and headlines. Text in all caps is considered to be the equivalent of shouting or yelling in online contexts. Because of these subconscious feelings, people associate lowercase brands with friendliness, while uppercase brands communicate authority. Unsurprisingly, people subconsciously associate lowercase brands with femininity and upper case brands with masculinity.

Another experiment involving typography effectiveness looks at the role of letter case on purchase intention. The study identified gender of consumption benefits as an important factor. This refers not to the gender of the buyer, but rather to the use or benefits of the product. Feminine consumption benefits were those that were associated with feminine goals such as looking slim as compared to masculine goals like building muscle. Feminine benefits also included things directly related to the feminine gender such as breast health or getting pregnant.

The study found that men were more likely to buy products with masculine consumption benefits when the brand name used a combination of upper and lowercase letters or all uppercase letters, while women were more likely to buy products with feminine consumption benefits if the brand name was presented in all lowercase text.

Other important aspects of typography are readability and psychological associations. For example, Times New Roman and other serif fonts convey a sense of tradition and reliability, while rounder, nonserif fonts like Helvetica look clean and unfussy. Script fonts like Edward Script communicate formality and creativity, while modern fonts like Century Gothic portray your company as forward thinkers with flare.

Find out more about the importance of typography here.

Knowing your audience and how their minds process visual information will help you to be a more effective marketer. Contact Pro Creative to help you create uniquely effective marketing for your company.

Top 4 Post-COVID Retail Pivots

Strategic pivots
Strategic pivots can make the difference between success and failure

As we are in the middle of the second wave of COVID (or maybe a resurgent first wave), it has become clear that life will not return to “normal” any time soon. For small businesses like retail stores, it is especially important to be able to implement strategic pivots. If you keep running your business as you always have, you are likely to run into trouble.

1. Safety First

Of course, your customers (and employees) will be concerned with safety so you need to change up the way you accommodate safety concerns. See 10 Ways to Make Customers Feel Comfortable Returning to Your Business Post-COVID.

2. Take It Up a Notch

When heading out of the house to visit your business carries a risk, you need to make it more compelling for customers to do so by implementing experience pivots. This may entail holding unique events at your location that customers cannot experience at home or making the in-store experience extraordinary in other ways.

For example, when movie theatres encountered competitive pressure from home streaming, some chains pivoted to invest in extra comfortable reclining chairs and premium food and beverage offerings. This made the movie theatre experience better than most people have at home.

You can also do an experience pivot by turning shopping into an immersive sensory experience through displays, scent, textures and food.

3. The Personal Touch

Similarly, when Best Buy was fighting a losing battle with Amazon, they created a program where they offered consumers free in-store advice about the best products to meet their needs and how they should be installed. Rather than a sales-oriented approach, the pivot was to be more consultative. Low pressure and free advice brought foot traffic, which turned into eventual sales. A consultative approach works particularly well with complex or high-ticket items and relies on the advisor being both knowledgeable and low key.

You can extend personal touch pivots to online marketing as well. If you have been collecting data on your customers’ shopping and browsing habits, kudos! Use this data to make suggestions for new products based on their taste and needs. For example, if a customer purchased a tackle box from you in the past, you can send him an email suggesting a cooler or pointing out a fishing rod that is on sale.

Facebook advertising is an easy way to implement this as well, since your pixel will show you which pages prospects visit and FB enables you to retarget them with relevant ads. Here’s an idea to A/B test: an ad for a complementary product vs. a link to a video testimonial about the product they looked at but didn’t buy.

4. Create Communities

Does your store or products have a loyal following? Do a community pivot by creating user/shopper communities through clubs, events, online forums and social media. Feature your customers and provide a place for them to interact with each other, post photos and videos and answer questions. Then you can point new potential customers to your community and let your existing customers become your brand ambassadors, aka salespeople.

Use this user-generated content on your website and social profiles too. See Starbucks’ White Cup Contest for an example of user-generated content. Seeing this not only gives new potential customers social proof that your store and products are good, but it makes them feel like they are a part of something bigger.

For more ideas, see Forbes’ article on being customer-centric. At Pro Creative, we believe marketing is all about being customer-centric. Contact us to find out what that looks like for your business.