Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Overcoming Telephone Call Reluctance.

Call Reluctance, seems to be one of the most debilitating mental disorders of sales people. It leads to making the phone look like a hundred pound weight, causing sales people to make excuses to themselves and others. Is Call Reluctance the problem, or is it a symptom of the real hidden problem. Could it truly be the fear of failure, fear of rejection, or maybe a lack of belief in yourself, or even your product?
Keep in mind, in business and in life, you can make excuses or you can make money, but you can’t do both.

We are independent commissioned sales people, it is up to us to find out what will make us work to our potential, no one will make us do it but we ourselves.
What can you do? Never underestimate the value of investing in you, as Ben Franklin told us, “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

Put some positive in your head daily, you are getting a good dose of negative just going through an average day. Make it a habit to read a book on sales skills, or more importantly a positive attitude book for 10 to 15 minutes first thing every morning before starting your day, and again each night before going to bed. Find an idea that you can use right away.

Find a WHY:

1. Why: If your why is big enough the facts don’t count.
When I speak of why, it is retraining yourself to embrace delayed gratification. To reward yourself when you accomplish a goal, this should be everything from small activity goals to large production goals. Each should be set with a reward you will give yourself when you achieve it. Make the goals a stretch but attainable.

Once when I was trying to reach an activity goal that every month seemed just out of reach, I would get close, but never was able to attain it. At the time I was doing a lot of public speaking and several of my friends and I were in kind of an arms race for the coolest neck ties. I was at a men’s store and found a tie that I really wanted, I was so excited, as I was standing in line to purchase it, and it dawned on me that I should set it as a reward for hitting that elusive goal. I had the store put a hold on it for a week until the end of that month, and then went back to work feverishly to accomplish my goal so I could come back and claim my prize. Even though that tie is out of style today, it hangs in my closet, and I find myself admiring it occasionally even now. Why? Because it isn’t a tie, it is a trophy. That is a small thing; I often use a good cigar for the same purpose today.

You can use anything you like, dinner out, a massage, it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it matters to you.

My point is that in most cases fear of the phone is nothing more than allowing the phone to be bigger than your why. If you can learn how to expand your why, you dream, your want, whatever you want to call it until it burns in you, there won’t be any obstacle that you can’t overcome.

You have heard the stories of the swimmers who tried to swim the English Channel but gave up after they had almost made it because the fog had set in and they couldn’t see the shore. And we have heard stories of mountain climbers who gave up just short of the pinnacle due to climbing through a cloud and not being able to see the top. If your target is not mentally visible to you, you can get caught up in the problems and not the reason why you are doing what it is you do.

Picture, if you will, a man looking at his goal or dream, then drop a barrier between them that is too tall for the man to see his dream over it.

When we take our eyes off of our prize we tend to make excuses about what problem is holding us back. However the problem is not the problem, it never has been, and never will be. If it were then no one else who has had that problem would have been able to succeed in doing what you want to do, my guess is that there are always examples of someone doing just that. “I’m too young”, “too old”, “too whatever”, “the people in my area are different”, whatever someone uses as their problem or excuse is being proven wrong by someone who has the same issues but it succeeding. Obstacles are those scary things we see when we take our eyes off our goals.


Growing up on a farm, my dad taught me how to plow a straight line. We would walk off the field and tie a rag to a tree or fence to make the mark, then go to the other side and walk it off to the same distance and then drive to the mark on the other side. You would just keep your eyes on the mark and your line would be perfectly straight. If you looked back and took your eyes off the mark you could see where you would lose the straight line, but if you would simply refocus you would straighten up and reach your goal. This is not a new idea, it is found in the Bible in Luke 9:62 Jesus replied; “Anyone who puts his hands to the plow and looks back is not fit for service in the kingdom of God.” You just need to make sure that the thing you are focusing on is big enough, and means enough to you, that it is more important to you than worrying about the size of the phone.

Now imagine that same man, the same obstacle, but with a much larger dream that can be seen over the top of the obstacle. Because if you build your dream big enough, the facts will no longer count.

How do you do this? Break it down into parts. First take a look at your big goal, how much money will it take for you to make over and above your living expenses to get it? Then figure out how much you make on one of your average sales, and divide the total you need to make for your expenses and your goal by that amount. Now you know how many sales you need to make per year, divide by twelve and you have your monthly sales goal. Break it down further, what is your average conversion rate for sales appointments to get a net sale? Now you know how many appointments you need to make per month, divide by four and now how many appointments you need per week. Let’s take it down another step, how many calls do you have to make on an average to get an appointment? Now you know how many calls per week you have to make to reach your appointment goals. Break that number down per day and you have a very reachable daily goal. What is wonderful about this type of goal is you are the only one who needs to cooperate to achieve it. It is purely an activity goal, one in which you are in total control.

So set goals for how many calls, how many appointments, how many sales, with rewards for each.

Let’s make the calls:

Set a goal for how many calls you will make per day. Schedule a time to make calls without distractions.

When you are making calls, be sure that you know the purpose of your call. What is your goal in that call, is it to set an appointment? Then understand that is the sale you are trying to make.

Don’t try to sell your product over the phone, sell the appointment, people are not going to make a large purchase over the phone. Since you are not going to sell the product over the phone, you need to learn to build curiosity. Ask questions, learn about the prospect, learn about their situation, and probe for their needs, their concerns, and their areas of pain.

One of the best examples of this was an old television show “Columbo” with Peter Falk. If you would find an old tape and watch him questioning a suspect, you can learn a lot about questioning a client. The goal should be to create a desire in the prospect to know more, to create a level of curiosity that they want satisfied.

Unfortunately far too many sales people think that the more they tell the prospect the more they will want to know. That isn’t true, you have a goal to set an appointment, and they have a goal as well. Their goal is to determine if they want to keep talking with you or eliminate you from their radar. If they feel they have “enough” information to make a decision over the phone, or if they start to feel you are talking about something “too good to be true” you have fallen from the peak of curiosity to the valley of skepticism.

Most of us, who gravitate to sales, have been told all our lives we are “natural” sales people, that we have “the gift of gab.” That can be an asset, but also a liability. There are two basic types of sales people, the Interesting extroverts, and the Interested Introverts. The Interesting Extroverts love to talk, but have to be very careful not to dominate the conversation by “puking” information dumps on the poor client. The Interested Introverts are very good at asking questions, and really listening to the client’s answers. If you will ask enough questions, and pay attention to the answers, the client will virtually sell them selves.

Be sincere, friendly, and relaxed on the phone.

If you are using a script be sure to rehearse it until it sounds natural, think of your client as a good friend and speak in the same manner.
Instead of a script you might find a bullet point list where the questions you want to ask, and the points you want to make are listed so you don’t forget them, this is my favorite technique.

To make your call have more power, allow your humor to come out. Don’t try to be so professional, or so focuses on your list of things you want to say, to not inject some humor. If you can find a joke that makes a point you want to make you have struck gold.

For instance, I used to sell programs that were designed to help people create secondary income streams. One of the jokes I told was, “I want to make sure that when people ask you what you did last night at work that you have something to tell them. You can tell them that you are now an expert on the subject of money, I am going to teach you the essential knowledge of money that will make you and expert. Are you ready, get out your notepads, ‘About money, it is better to have it than not to have it, it is better to have more of it than less of it, and it is better to have it sooner than later.”

Another one was telling a story of how I sold my wife on marrying me, “When I was dating my wife I told her that if she would marry me she would have it all, she would live in the big house on the hill, drive up in her convertible sports car, would never have to clean a toilet in her life, the maid would take care of that, and we would travel the world going to Hawaii and every place she could dream of.” Before you are married this is called dating, after you are married it’s called lying. Then she started asking when any of this was going to happen, when we were ever going to Hawaii. I would tell her we were too young, why do it when you only have a couple weeks of vacation and have to rush around. Why not wait until we are retired and can really afford both the time and money. She then explained it this way, she said just imagine walking down the beach with the ocean rolling in gently tickling our feet as we walk, off in the distance are the sounds of a luau, the smell of tropical flowers dancing in the breeze. Just you and I on a lonely beach the moonlight following us along the water, the most romantic stroll….. then you take your walker and move try to keep it from getting stuck in the sand.” Guys it is better to have it sooner than later.

Jokes like this can suck your client into the moment and drive home a point stronger than a graph and chart. So if you can find a way to incorporate them do so.

98% of all sales are not made on the first call, so follow-through is as critical as any part of the sales process. Follow-through starts on the initial contact, and continues until there is a yes or hard no. It often takes five to ten follow-throughs to a prospect to make the first sale. The prospect may or may not actually say no each time, but every time you follow-through and they don’t buy; it is as if he is saying, you have yet to convince me. Be prepared to be persistent in follow-through and not quit past that 7th no. As Zig Ziglar says, “Timid sales people raise skinny kids.”

Goals for call:

Your primary goal should be to be Detective Columbo and gather information about your prospect. If you ask enough questions, and then listen to them, encouraging them to elaborate, they will tell you how to close them. They will tell you their concerns and their hot buttons. Once you know those, all you have to do is show them how to solve them and you aren’t even selling but helping them get what they want.
What you want to find in your questions are their areas of pain, want, or need. Design your questions to ferret these out. Use tie down questions to help you direct the prospect if they are not forthcoming.

Tie downs are the little questions at the end of a statement to get the small yes from the prospect.

“Our experience shows that one of the biggest concerns of most of baby boomers today is how do they protect themselves and their families from the costs of long term care in case one of them goes to an assisted care facility, wouldn’t you agree?”

You can also do an inverted tie down by putting the question at the front of the statement as well.

“Isn’t it true that many people today are worrying about the viability of Social Security long term?”

There are eighteen basic tie-downs you can find useful:

Aren’t they, Aren’t you, Can’t you, Couldn’t it, Doesn’t it, Don’t you agree, Don’t we, Shouldn’t it, Wouldn’t it, Haven’t they, Hasn’t he, Hasn’t she, Isn’t it, Isn’t that right, Didn’t it, Wasn’t it, Won’t they, Won’t you?

Of course there are more that you can add to this list, but this gives you a good idea of how they can work for you. At the front of a statement they inverted tie downs, in the middle they are easily hidden in as an internal tie-down; at the end they are the traditional tie-down. It is best to mix them up and not use too many, no more than three or four per conversation.

There is another way that you can use these, the tag on, where if you prospect makes a positive statement on your product. Prospect, “As crazy as the stock market has been I can see how it makes sense to find a safe place for my retirement money.” You, “Doesn’t it?”

When you make the call keep your goals in mind.

1. An appointment. (When you get the appointment, confirm it, and then send them a handwritten note reminding of it.)

2. Schedule another call. (If you can’t get an in person appointment, book another time for a call to give them more information that you will promise them.)

3. Leave a question unanswered that gives you permission to call them back with the answer.

Bram Stoker in his classic book about vampires “Dracula” said that vampires cannot enter your home without permission. I have always tried to use that thought process as a salesperson. I always seek an invitation to follow-through. In each meeting either in person or by phone, I try to find a question to leave unanswered. “That is a great question, let me look into that. I will call you on_____ after I find out the best answer for you.” That way I am not a “pesky” sales person bugging them, but keeping a promise answering a question that they wanted. You can keep that going forever.

Have fun, lighten up. If no one else has fun, you should at least make sure that you do. If you are having fun, you will continue to make the calls, and the fun will come out in your voice and make you much more effective. Play games with your self.
If possible when making a call to someone you don’t know, and that doesn’t know you, use a third party recommendation. This can be a very loose connection, but it still works.

There was a time when I was on the road as a sales trainer for a company that was recruiting new distributors. One of the things I often added to a seminar was how to overcome fear of the phone and how to make a third party referral call.

I would have a local phone book on a table then would ask for a volunteer from the crowd to come and close their eyes and point to a spot on the page of the phone book. I would then ask the audience to be VERY quiet, and beg them not to laugh. I would then call the number that the volunteer pointed to. When the person answered I would say “Hello Bob, I am expanding my company in the ____ area and someone pointed your name out as someone I should talk to.” I would then start questioning and qualifying the person.

Many times would get an appointment for coffee and where they would bring their resume for an interview. Many times I would get shot down, or I would have no interest in meeting with them. Remember it was a random number out of that city’s phone book. I was happy to have the failures in front of the audience as well; it showed that is just part of the game.

If you have a problem personally saying that someone gave you their name, take your list and have someone in your office hand it to you. Then someone did in fact give you their name. Have fun with it. The idea of a list is to get names on it, and then to get names off of it. If you ever need help building a prospect list, I will be glad to teach you how to add at around a thousand new names of people you already know, or know people you know. That is another seminar.

SW, SW, SW, NEXT! Some Will, Some Won’t, So What, Next!

If you understand that last point, it will liberate you to fail your way to success on the phone.

Call Reluctance in not the problem, it is just a symptom. Find out what your Why is and you can accomplish anything.

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