Selling by Phone
Phone sales are more difficult than face-to-face selling because it's harder to gauge a customer's reaction. But the phone is a valuable tool, and the better you get at projecting confidence and developing a pleasant phone manner, the more you'll sell based on incoming or outgoing calls.
Try not to sound rushed. If a customer took the time to look up your number and call you for information, then they are likely a good lead and thus valuable. Remind yourself that every call could be your next big customer — and treat the caller with the respect you would give someone who represented a large chunk of your business. Keep your voice bright and friendly — you should sound as if you're happy to hear from them.
After a while, you'll find it easy to recognize someone who's just fishing for information, isn't really committed, or just wants to chat. Bring the conversation to a timely end, but remember your dependence on good word-of-mouth referrals. Be courteous, tell the person that you'll “let her get back to her day,” and give her a cheery goodbye.
Your job on the phone is to find out what a customer needs and quickly let him know how your product or service can help. If it's a complex need, invite him to stop by or ask for his address (e-mail or postal) so that you can send him printed information (and then follow up on that promise). Be helpful.
Telemarketing is one way to use the phone to contact potential customers, but you need to make a lot of calls to turn a lead into a customer, so it's time-intensive. Also, you risk irritating a lot of potential customers along the way (how happy are you when a telemarketer calls you at home?). Instead, it might be more worthwhile to call highly qualified potential customers or past customers on a regular basis. Do you have a list of customers who haven't made use of your services in a while? You could call to remind them of what you offer and to find out if there's any particular reason for their absence — you'll gather some valuable feedback and no doubt generate some sales, too.
You could also use telemarketing as a follow-up to a direct mail or trade show campaign. If you create a response card that's sent to a geographic area or filled out at the show, you'll be able to call those who returned the card. That way, you're spending your phone time with good leads, rather than getting hung up on by people who have no interest in your service.