By Greg Bush
When most people think of working as a sales representative in a call center, they associate feelings of fear, rejection, and uncertainty. Just mention that the sales position involves outbound calling and many will almost hide under their desks. However, outbound selling involves many of the same skills as an inbound job: creating interest, describing your product or service in a compelling way, and listening.
To become a successful outbound sales agent, you must begin with your attitude.
Set your goals high and hold yourself accountable: Most people enter the world of sales to have control over their income. It is important that you have a clear vision of the earnings you desire and, more importantly, the lifestyle that money will provide. That vision will keep you motivated to “make the next call.”
Make a Plan: Once you’ve established how much money you want and the things that money will buy, you must then plan to achieve your goal. The outbound world is a numbers game. How many calls does it take you to make a sale? How much in commission is that sale worth? The answers are the two most important numbers you must know, and you should track them daily, weekly, and monthly. Watch the trends. As your skills improve, so should the numbers. As an example, if it takes you twenty-five calls to make one sale and that sale earns you $50 in commission, then every call you make is worth two dollars. Now, if I told you I would pay you two dollars for every number you could dial, you would probably short-circuit the telephone. So why do so many outbound agents experience “call reluctance?” They are focused instead on the fear of rejection and not knowing what to say to get past it.
Once you’re focused mentally, you must practice and improve on “the basics” the same way professional athletes prepare for their next season.
Know your product and script: It is important to understand your product and its features, and also why people want or need it. In order to make your script sound genuine over the phone, you must practice and anticipate what your prospect’s objections will be. As a part of your script, you need to remember these three things:
- Grab the prospect’s attention: In the outbound world, you only have a few seconds to get a prospect’s attention. Ask for the prospect by name, state your name and company, and get right to the reason as to why you’re calling.
- Present your product in a compelling way: Use descriptive words to maintain attention.
- Make a list of objections you are likely to encounter, and when you are away from the phone write out a rebuttal. It’s best to practice these so they will just roll naturally off your tongue when they are needed.
Ask for the sale: Many phone agents work so hard, make call after call, and present their product perfectly – only to forget the most important part: asking for the sale. In order to be successful in outbound sales, you should assume the sale. Use statements like “Which credit card will you be paying with today?,” “I have time available on Wednesday or Thursday; which would you prefer?,” and “You will receive your order on Friday after I get some more information from you.” After using these statements, it’s best to remain silent and let the prospect speak. At this point, you have a 50 percent chance of getting the sale. They will either say “Okay, great. Here’s my card number,” or you are likely to hear one of the objections you have prepared for.
Ask again: The majority of sales are made on the second or third attempt. Assuming the prospect didn’t jump through the phone to make that purchase on your first attempt, you most likely received an objection. Once you have attempted to overcome the objection, you should again assume the sale by simply using one of the assumptive closes mentioned earlier. At this point, it’s probably a good idea to create a little urgency if you can. “We only have a few left at this price,” or “We are booking up fast, I can’t guarantee this date will be available if you call back.” Usually that will motivate the prospect to commit.
The proper mental attitude, preparation, and practice will make you more successful and less afraid of outbound selling. While there is a significant difference in the flow of outbound calls compared to inbound, the phone skills are the same. Listen, create a need, address concerns, and ask for the business.
Greg Bush is a call center executive with over fifteen years of industry experience. His background includes both sales and customer service. He is experienced in call center start-up and turnaround, driving revenue by placing a strong focus on best practices and innovative technology. You can contact Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-822-9283.
[From Connection Magazine – November 2011]