Telephone Sales 101
Selling by phone isn't a bad thing; in fact, for many selling situations it is a more responsible method of selling. Rather than wasting the time and fuel to visit a current or prospective customer, the salesperson simply calls him or her on the telephone. It is more efficient for both parties.
It also is less expensive and uses fewer natural resources. A telephone call can save fuel, waiting in offices, and related travel expenses. Billions of dollars in products and services are sold every year without the buyer and seller physically in the same location.
Don't Call Me! I'll Call You!
The negative side of telephone sales comes from
So are telephone sales dead? Hardly. It still is a primary method of selling goods and services to businesses and industry. In addition, buyers continue to use the telephone to initiate purchases from sellers. The Do-Not-Call Registry is an attempt by reputable sellers and consumer groups to police the industry and to return a level of confidence and trust to buying and selling by phone.
Are the do-not-call laws enforceable?
Definitely. The FTC has announced numerous settlements from major telephone sales businesses since the registry was established in 2003. Most have been for $1 million or more. Complaints can be filed at the Do-Not-Call Registry website or by calling 877-FTC-HELP. Be aware that there are some types of calls that are not covered by the DNC rules, including those from political organizations, charities, and telephone surveyors.
In business-to-business (B2B) selling, many firms employ two types of salespeople: outside and inside. An outside salesperson travels to the customer. An inside salesperson doesn't and instead helps the customer by telephone and sends needed information by fax machine and by the mail or parcel delivery systems. In some businesses, the salesperson may travel one or two days a week and work inside an office the rest of the time. Other salespeople will travel a week of the month or a month of the year, spending the rest of her or his time in the office contacting customers by phone.
For example, a computer software company that developed a system for scheduling and tracking commercials on radio stations, called a traffic system, hired outside and inside salespeople. The outside salesperson works regionally, visiting current and prospective customers for face-to-face meetings and demonstrations at radio stations. Once sold, the inside salesperson helps the customer with product upgrades, supplies, and assistance with technical questions. Also called customer relations, the inside salesperson is responsible for keeping the customer happy with the system as well as knowledgeable about new and extended features.
Once a relationship is developed with the customer, inside sales can be more efficient in terms of time and cost. Customers will appreciate the call because it helps them make or save money with little effort on their part. In addition, inside sales jobs often lead to more lucrative outside sales positions.
Golden Rule Phone Sales
The Golden Rule of Selling — sell as you want to be sold — can easily be applied to inside or telephone sales. For example, you can establish your own rules similar to these:
Don't call unless you have a compelling reason to do so.
Be friendly, but get to the point quickly so you don't waste the customer's time.
Ask the buyer, “Is this a good time to talk to you about (what you sell)?”
If not, ask for a better time to call.
Confirm any agreements at the end of the conversation and via a follow-up note or e-mail.
As needed, verify contact information: phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses, time zone, mailing address, hours in the office, best time to call.
Use your best selling voice.
Always speak sincerely, confidently, and with appropriate politeness.
As you sell by phone, you will develop an extended list of how to sell by the Golden Rule based on what you sell, to whom, why, when, and how. Inside salespeople are professionals.