We spend almost every waking moment on the phone. We’re on the phone in the car and in the grocery store, sitting in meetings and standing in line, at ball games and concerts. We cannot tolerate being out of the loop or spending time quietly with ourselves. Yet the cry continues from small business owners, sales associates, and customer service representatives that they hate to make calls.
Here are a few of their reasons and a suggestion or two of how to overcome the fear.
#1 the fear of being rejected. With so many sales gurus out there, we really believe that the buyer has to say NO six times before he will buy. Their great plan is for us to make so many calls that we have to average a couple of Yes’s a day. Can your ego take that? Mine, neither.
I prefer to put my name, my face, my expertise in front of the decision maker several times, without asking for the business. Each time her peers mention my name, each time she hears about my programs, each time I meet her at a chamber event, the door is opened slightly. I live by networking and word-of-mouth advertising. Buyers want to know that you can deliver…every time. Make your calls count.
#2 the fear of being interrupted. Nothing has impacted how we treat sales calls more than the telemarketing industry. The number one complaint I hear is that they want to read the entire script, with appropriate pauses for emphasis, without taking a breath. Interrupting them will only make them start over.
So don’t read to your prospects! You don’t get interrupted in a conversation. Get the buyer involved in the dialogue early. And don’t think those cleverly crafted questions that can only be answered YES count. Identify the real decision maker, the need, the timing, and the budget by sharing information. Give your prospect permission to add to the conversation. When you aren’t doing all the talking, you may find time to listen. Remember, though, listening is more than waiting for your turn to talk.
#3 the fear of seeming unorganized. Do you dial a number without having the file open on your computer or on your desk? Have you taken a moment to familiarize yourself with the account, the last purchase, or the last requested action? If there was a previous misunderstanding or error, have you verified the outcome and the customer’s satisfaction?
The person who makes the call controls the call. Don’t ask prospects to call you back. They may catch you at an inopportune time when your mind is on something else. You may not be able to fight back the urge to put them on hold while you locate the information you were calling about earlier. Or worse, you could confuse them with another buyer. Organize your thoughts and information before the contact is made.
#4 the fear of not knowing the answer. No one has to know everything about everything. Have you ever watched a computer genius? There is more button pushing and screen hopping and cable repositioning than one can bear to watch. Afterwards, I don’t have any idea what he did and I’m not sure that he does, either. But now it works.
You have permission to learn something new every day. How you stall for time is what separates the professionals from the fearfuls. “That’s a good question. Do you have a minute to hold while I verify that for you?” “I may need to research that. Are you able to hold or may I call you back?” “No one has ever asked me that before. Would you give me the opportunity to look into this on your behalf?” Prospects, customers, patients, and clients would much rather give you time to check on their questions than have you simply hazard a guess. Know It All – not at all.
#5 the fear of taking it personally. Do you think problems go away if you ignore them? Recently, I arrived to view the proofs of our family photographs. Barely through the door, the clerk greeted me with, “They’re not in, yet.” What do you mean they are not in? This is my appointed time. “Well, they were held up in Nashville yesterday and they’re not in, yet. It isn’t my fault.” When did you know the pictures were going to be late? “Yesterday, but I was still hoping they’d be here. Yours aren’t the only ones. Is there a number I can call when they get in?” Wouldn’t yesterday have been the appropriate time to make that call?
No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. However, letting the customer know what is happening and what you’re doing about it before it becomes an inconvenience earns you huge payback in loyalty. If you’ve heard my Radio Shack story, you remember that Mr. Shelby didn’t explain their return policy when I asked about it at the time of my purchase, because “You can’t tell everyone all the bad stuff. They won’t want to buy from you.” Take customer satisfaction personally and build customer loyalty in the process.
Prepare yourself. Sit up straight. Put a big smile on your face. Have your material in front of you. Take a moment. Take a breath. And make the call!
I’m eager to hear of your results.