How to pull off a good phoning session
Objective: to obtain the meetings necessary for the weekly activity of salesperson.
1. The conditions for a good phoning session
To succeed on the phones I must first have in mind:
- My agenda to plan and organise my week
- My phoning dossier
- My objectives for the week
My phoning session needs to be:
- Adhered to
- A phoning session should never be done on a Monday morning or Friday afternoon.
- 4 to 6 sessions of phoning of at least two hours a week are needed for sustained business.
- I choose the morning or the afternoon depending on my mood.
- I avoid sessions late in the evening or early in the morning, except to contact lucrative prospects or avoid an impassable secretary.
3. Think ahead
- I don’t schedule 1st meetings for the current week (minimum W+1 maximum W+3). It’s easier to schedule meetings a little further down the line. A meeting set for too far ahead is liable to get lost in peoples’ agendas—you should get in touch
again to confirm it.
- By Friday afternoon I’ve taken at least 3 meetings for W+1 and 3 meetings for W+2.
My dossiers could include:
- A file of suspects (yet to be contacted companies within target market).
- A file of ‘passive’ prospects, annotated with names and numbers but without any business dealings so far.
- A file of ‘active’ prospects, well-known contacts who we have already done business with.
- An organigram of key accounts.
- A file of follow-ups in response to marketing drives.
Every phoning dossier is similar because the approach is specific. The preparation should be done no earlier than the day before, or better yet at the start of the morning.
5. Some stats
At most in 3 hours (one session):
- I pick up the phone around 50 to 80 times.
- I negotiate for a meeting between 10 and 20 times with the person on the other end.
- I get 1 or 2 meetings.
These ratios are the ones often obtained by new salespeople who use non-annotated files about 80% of the time. Progress is made by using better annotated files, and doing so with an increasing level of proficiency.
6. What to do
During a session of phoning in my office I have:
- My phoning script
- My agenda, with the days I want to have a meeting marked and colour coded (it’s more visual and you can see the progress you’ve made.)
- I might note down the main geographical area to avoid trekking unnecessary distances.
- My phoning dossiers that I have prepared beforehand.
- I gradually tick off the calls I have made, the negotiations I’ve had about arraigning a meeting, and the meetings I’ve set up. I note all this on a follow-up sheet, or use a piece of software to make records of the phoning.
7. How to succeed
The main causes of an unsuccessful phoning session are as follows:
- I don’t smile.
- I send emails during the session.
- I note down the information while making the call (this should be done between calls).
- I haven’t got into the state of flow that it requires.
- The dossiers I’m working on aren’t very relevant.
- I don’t manage to hold people’s attention.
I set myself to schedule a number of meetings during the week’s phoning sessions and I plan for the weeks W+1 and W+2. My target for the number of meetings has to be clear, precise, and—most importantly, ambitious yet achievable. I use the tools at my
disposal to measure my progress and any improvements I could make to my phoning technique. The main techniques to succeed on the phone are as follows:
- My agenda is open.
- I have prepared my calls by quickly reading all the notes I made.
- I get their attention with a strong hook, always something about the benefits the proposal has for my clients.
- I am firm and to the point. I say what I need to say to the person I need to say it to.
- I’m polite and cheerful.
When encountering the secretarial barrier, you must be: pleasant, polite, ingratiating and brief.
- When they ask ‘and why do you want to speak with them’ I respond in a succinct manner (I’ve prepared the answer beforehand and I always finish by saying thank you). This avoids you getting held up with them.
When speaking with my target
- I never lose sight of my objective: SCHEDULE A MEETING.
- I speak in the present tense and avoid vague language (words like: roughly, sort of, a bit of).
- I refer to myself directly in the conversation (what I can do for you is…)
- At each objection he makes I use the information I have on him to show him that I am not just calling out of the blue. I handle each objection quickly
- An objection successfully dealt with= one offer for a meeting on its way
- I always respect the rule of 3xNo
- I don’t argue while scheduling a meeting, I just bounce back (Ok that’s fair; you’re right; yes, it’s an important decision…)
A client who a client who asks a question is already halfway convinced. It’s my job to get meetings not to convince the client to buy the product. This will be done in the meeting.
If I do it all over the phone why would he still want to meet with me?
I am in command of my agenda because my time is precious; I propose the dates and times which work for me, and in so doing show how busy and in-demand I am. That’s the advantage of working out your schedule ahead of time. It helps maintain your peace of mind. There are closing techniques for meetings and the same is true for phone calls. If you feel your target wavering then seize the moment: ‘would you prefer something in the morning? 10:00 or 11:00?’ You need to keep them engaged and reassure them about the opportunities your meeting would offer them: ‘you’ll see, you won’t be wasting your time, I promise’ etc.
Don’t leave any gaps in the conversation. At the end of a phone call I always confirm the day, the time, and the place of our meeting and I thank them warmly.
I spell out my name for them to reassure myself that they are going to note it down on their agenda and give them my mobile number.
8. The key techniques for success on the telephone?
What makes the difference?
Self-discipline and only self-discipline.
Phoning is seen too often as a difficult and tiresome exercise.
As long as salesperson follows their plan step-by-step there’s no reason they shouldn’t manage to set up 6
meetings a week, and, while doing so acquire a taste for phoning.
Common problems and their solutions.
The main difficulty encountered is the lack of preparation for the phoning session beforehand.
Besides this, the main difference rests in all the daily tasks which get in the way of phoning.
To solve this problem, you have one sole option:
FORCE YOURSELF TO DO NOTHING EXEPT YOUR PHONING
When I’m in a meeting I don’t stop my conversation with my client and get up every 5 minutes to check my email. The same should be true with phoning.
Some words of wisdom:
- Don’t let yourself become discouraged.
- Always keep smiling.
- Be involved and engaged, motivated and determined.
- Above all, never skip a phoning session.
- The client receives calls all day; I need to stand out.
- They’re more likely to schedule a meeting with me if I’m clear, succinct, and centre my conversation around how they will benefit from our business.
- They appreciate it when my speech is fluid and professional.