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Selling is a Contact Sport: Keys to Effective Phone Calling
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By John Boe

Its been said that salespeople who avoid making phone calls have skinny children. Prospecting for new business is critically important and for the majority of salespeople, it is by far the most challenging and stressful aspect of their profession. Successful salespeople are proactive and recognize the importance of prospecting for new business daily. They donīt have to be reminded to ask for referrals or follow up on a sales lead, they do it automatically. This article is packed full of helpful phone calling tips and techniques which, if put into practice, will fill your appointment calendar with new business opportunities!

Donīt shoot from the hip, use a script. If you want to sound confident and competent, I strongly suggest that you write out your opening and closing remarks. If you sound in the least bit nervous or unprepared, people will immediately sense this and rightfully assume that you lack experience. Using a phone script for your opening and closing remarks is a good idea for several reasons. A well-polished phone script gives you a consistent approach that keeps you on message and guarantees you donīt leave out important information. Be respectful of your prospectīs time by designing your phone script to be short, sweet, and to the point. Once you have prepared your phone script, itīs now time to tape record yourself reading it aloud until you sound smooth and polished. While you might be tempted to skip this step, donīt do it. Recording your phone script role-play session provides you with a golden opportunity to critique your performance and improve your delivery.

During a face-to-face conversation, first impressions are based primarily on appearance. While on the other hand, first impressions created over the phone are based on brevity, vocal quality, and attitude. An upbeat mental attitude is contagious and, unless taken to an extreme, builds rapport and creates a very positive first impression. Keep in mind that a smile can be heard over the phone. The best way to build trust and rapport during a phone conversation is to match your prospectīs energy level. This is accomplished by "subtly" matching their rate of speech and tone of voice. For example, if you have the tendency to speak fast/loud and your prospect begins speaking slow/soft, you will need to lower your voice and slow your rate of speech down to match them. The psychological power behind the principle of matching is based on the premise that people want to do business with salespeople who they feel are similar to them.

There is absolutely no substitute for preparation and practice. Like most successful endeavors, the key to effective phone calling has a lot to do with preparation and practice. Practice builds confidence through repetition. Ask your sales manager or an associate to schedule an hour role-play session with you. This session is important because it gives you a dress rehearsal and the opportunity to work the kinks out of your script. As they say in the military, train like you plan to fight. Create a realistic training environment by role-playing over the phone. Begin the role-play session with minimal prospect resistance and then, as your confidence builds, gradually inject typical prospect objections. While it is impossible to have a script that might address every conceivable objection, you must anticipate key objections and develop scripts to respond to them.



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