[Podcast] Perfecting The Sales Call
Listen Now : Perfecting the Sales Call
Today we’re going to be talking about perfecting the sales call. I’m Simon Higgs, Business Development Assistant, on the line we have Paul Ward who’s our Sales Director, and Adam Rhoden who is our Business Development Manager. Paul, do you want to give a quick introduction about yourself?
I’m Paul Ward. I’ve been at Telux HD now for around about six months. In my previous life I was a financial advisor with the Co-Operative Bank for five years, I then went into another business as an independent financial advisor (my own business), so from a sales point of view I’ve got over ten years experience as a direct salesman. The purpose of the call today is what good looks like by way of an outbound sales call, and provide some tips on how that sounds good.
My name is Adam Rhoden and I previously worked the last twelve years in private health care, focusing on vocational based rehabilitation.
Great stuff. Ok guys, so first question: how can we be more effective making sales over the phone? Paul do you want to open this on up?
I think traditionally outbound sales has had the cold-calling stigma attached to it, where people who are doing B2B outbound sales calls would traditionally work off a script. They won’t know a great deal about the company they’re phoning, or the individual they are phoning. They will work off a dialler system, that will be high volume (high number of calls), with a fairly low number of conversations – and I’m not convinced that that actually works anymore in a sales environment. I think businesses are now much more au fait with who’s ringing them, I think it’s more difficult to actually get through to the right individual and I think it’s necessary to change that approach and actually tackle it from a different point of view. I think one of the most important things is to actually do a little bit of research on the business you’re calling, beforehand try and discover the correct individual that you’d need to speak to about the relevant product or service you’re selling – so for example the operations director or the sales director in a medium sized business would be the correct port of call. For a smaller business it may well be the managing director who you would need to speak to in that instance, so I think that’s really important. I think doing a little bit of research on the website: potentially looking at new blog posts that the company has written, any news articles relating to the business (Have they acquired another business? Have they moved office address? Have they done something in relation to a charity? Have they had any successes recently?), just so you know a little bit about what they do. I think that’s very important. It’s a consultative approach that you’re looking for, so you pick the phone up, you introduce yourself, you introduce the business that you work for and the purpose of the call straight away. I think what that does, is it alleviates any issues of falseness, it comes across less ‘salesy’, you’re in a position where you are being perfectly transparent with the way you are approaching the call. Also, if the person isn’t interested, on the phone call, then move on to the next one. There’s no point trying to get past the receptionist to speak to somebody if they’re not interested. We tend to find with our approach (with it being fairly upfront), we do get quite a lot of people that are interested in actually discussing matters further. I also think, just to follow on from what I mentioned about the research, it’s important to try to look at where your offering would fit in with that particular business. As another example we partner with numerous IT support and IT consultants and businesses as well, and we feel (for example) that if I go on to a website and I see that that specific business offers the IT support, they offer the web design, that as part of the proposition they can look at the software packages (Office 365, virus protection etc.), but they don’t offer a telephony solution – then that gives me the information that I need to go in and actually speak to that company, and have a chat with them and say: “Look, I really like your website, and we’ve noticed you don’t offer the telephony. Let me tell you a little bit more about what we do…”. So that’s the benefit of approaching that call, and spending a little bit more time in doing some research.
Fantastic. Adam, I know compared to Paul, you’re relatively new to the whole world of selling over the telephone, so Paul has trained you up a little bit when you joined us. Do you agree with most of Paul’s methodologies, I presume you do?
Absolutely! Yeah, and I’ve found them to be very effective.
What would you say were the main challenges you’ve come across Adam, when you first started?
Well initially it was engaging in the conversation with the companies we were speaking to, but I think with all the tools and support that was given when I was trained – actually doing the background research, tailoring the call the individuals, tackling it from a different point of view and being able to be absolutely transparent with what we offer and how we work together has been very successful for me.
Fantastic. So I’ve noticed that you’ve both mentioned about the research, so what would you say is the most important thing to know before you actually even pick up the phone, when you’re talking to someone? Paul?
As I mentioned previously, I think it’s actually… you could look at a listing on a Google search page or on a Yell.com listing etc., and you can think “Oh, that’s an IT support business!”. But without actually knowing what their proposition and what their service is, it’s quite difficult to be able to have a call which would be received very well. And I think if you don’t do that research and you’re not careful, you could come unstuck and you could be in a position where you appear to come across like you don’t know what you’re doing and you appear like you are just cold-calling a business. It isn’t about cold-calling a business, it’s about matching features and benefits to that specific company that you’re telephoning, and I always say that it’s very important to have prepared three matching features and benefits to that business. Some of those benefits may well be the same across that specific industry, but if you can make sure that you are armed with those matching features – some of those might be the fact that you can offer an unrivalled level of local service (we’re based in Manchester at Telux HD, so our support is twentyfour hours, seven days a week), whereas some businesses we look at may use a solution that’s in the states. That’s one matching feature, you’re in the UK, you’re fairly local, we are as well – it’s just making sure you articulate those points to a potential, or a prospective new partner or new client and they’re actually aware of how you can differentiate yourself from the competition.
Great stuff. Adam, I know that as well as doing the sales calls and things like that, you also do a lot of your own lead prospecting. I’m guessing a lot of that background research, and things, feed into that when you discover your sources? What would you say are the main sources you’d say you get? I’m guessing social media, things like that?
Absolutely, yeah. Social media – Twitter, LinkedIn, I’ve also found Yell.com and Thompson Local to be a really good resource for actually finding the companies, to then be able to do the research and get the information that’s relevant prior to me making the call.
I’m guessing that helps you build a mental picture of the person you’re speaking to before you pick it up?
Yeah, absolutely! And actually goes towards actually speaking to the right person when I do pick the phone up.
OK guys, when you actually pick up the handset and dial the number – that phone call is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a sales call. What would you each say are the three main, important things that need to be going on in the background when you’re making a sales call?
Yeah, going on in the background is listening to their objectives, if they do want further information – it’s providing them with the relevant information for them. That’s one of the things that I’ve found.
I think it’s the way you actually approach that call. I think generically in sales there are numerous things that you need to get right, to come across trustworthy and transparent, as I’ve already mentioned on the phone. You also need to know exactly what you’re talking about, about your specific product or service. I think in some cases, some businesses that you talk to, they may be not equipped to necessarily deal with the in-depth knowledge and the product knowledge that they can offer. I think that’s key. And it’s not just the offering for your own business that you need to know inside-out, you also need to be fully aware of your competition. It’s very, very important that you maintain that competency and that you’re constantly aware, because that’s ever changing. It’s important from a sustainability point of view, that you’re aware of what your direct competition are doing, so you can actually tie that in and differentiate yourself with what you’re doing. Again, I think another key point is actually explaining to a prospective client, or partner, what it is you do differently and what it is you do better, and how that impacts on the end user. For example you can compare apples with apples, and say: “We offer a phone system, XYZ company offers a phone system.”. But why is it that that company should use your phone system over XYZ? And again, I think that all too often it boils down to cost, and from my point of view cost… It’s very important that you’re not trying to be the cheapest in the marketplace – you’re trying to offer a solution that’s value for money, and you’re trying to plug those problems that the end user and the partners face. So again, that’s a third point, a further discussion is around problems that people have experienced – and again, that goes back to generic sales. It may even be a problem that somebody doesn’t actually know that they face, and you make them aware of a specific issue that you’ve encountered and then they actually realise it’s something they’ve faced and that you have a solution for that problem. I tend to find that people can benefit from looking at the issues that they face, and the fact you can solve those solutions, further enhances your proposition. I think that that’s the way I would summarise the approach that we like to take. It’s more consultative, more professional and very very transparent in the way that you approach things.
Amazing guys. Thank you very much, there’s some really interesting points. Just one quick last one actually, that popped up to me now. It’s become very apparent, and I was wondering if you guys agree, that the most important thing is to know who you’re talking to before you even start – would you say that’s probably the most important thing to take away?
I think it’s one of the most important things, yeah.
Absolutely, because that ultimately makes you appear on that telephone conversation, that you are interested in the business and that you have done some research, you’ve been prepared, and ultimately puts you in a more professional light, rather than just picking up the phone blind and people being fully aware of the fact that you’ve not prepared for that call – and if you’ve not prepared for something, to be quite frank, people are going to think “Well, if he can’t even be bothered to prepare, then we don’t want to do business with them!”. I think that going forward in professional services businesses, like business telephony, it’s something that we are keen to differentiate ourselves from the competition, by way of service proposition and it does tie in with what I said previously – which is from a cost point of view: if you’re looking at very low cost solutions, bear in mind that you are not going to get the service you deserve. On our website we believe that (and we actually have the strapline on our website) your business wasn’t built out of a box, why would you expect your phone system to be effectively built out of a box? It’s not an off-the-peg solution that we offer, we offer a solution that’s tailor made to suit a business. Everything that we implement, we work alongside our end-user, alongside our partners, in ensuring that it’s the best solution. I know I’ve said it three times, but we do offer that consultative approach and it’s all included in the price. That’s how we believe that a business should work. So, yeah that’s the strategy that we take – it works very well, and we’re going to build on that and push forward.
Amazing! Thank you so much for your time guys, it’s been absolutely brilliant.