By Kathy Sisk
The first two steps for successful telemarketing are properly presenting your introduction and communicating how you acquired the prospect’s name. In the third step, we will discuss how to respect your prospect’s time. The goal here is to get to the probing step (Step Five), where you will qualify your prospect, establish his or her wants, and create the need for what you are offering. Even if you are not selling and only generating qualified leads or making an appointment, use these steps to gain a higher level of quality and productivity.
Respect Their Time: It’s important to convey to your prospects that you are aware of their time and respect it. In today’s busy world, time is a valued commodity. How do you get prospects to share some of their time with you without allowing them a “way out” of the phone presentation?
There are three possible functions in Step Three, all of which are designed to give your prospect a feeling of control without you actually relinquishing it. The key is respecting their time. This lets your prospect know that you realize their time is valuable; when you acknowledge this, they will generally allow you to continue with no or very little resistance.
How would knowing that you have permission to continue affect your attitude with the rest of your presentation? Would this increase your confidence level? Would this help you present your products and services better, knowing that your prospect has given you the go-ahead signal to continue? Of course it would!
- Assume It Is a Good Time: There are many ways to request a prospect’s time, such as “Did I catch you at a bad time?” “Do you have a few minutes?” or “I know you’re busy, but….” However, these encourage negative responses and relinquish control. Here are two ideal phrases that encourage a positive response:
- “I appreciate you taking my call…”
- “Thank you for taking my call…”
Using these phrases, you assume it is a good time. After all, the prospect did answer the phone. When you acknowledge your prospect’s time and show your appreciation for taking your call, the prospect is less likely to use this as an opportunity to get you off the phone and will usually allow you to continue.
However, you may receive other responses, and you should know how to respond to those with confidence as well. If it is truly an inconvenient time, your prospect will interrupt and tell you so; then you proceed to the second function in this step.
- Dealing with a Negative Response: The second function is used only when the prospect gives you a negative response. For example, your prospect might say:
- “I’m busy right now.”
- “I have someone in my office.”
- “I was just leaving.”
- “I’m right in the middle of something.”
Prospects who claim to be busy fall into one of two categories, and you need to be able to separate them. The first type is truly busy, and you should respect that and call back at a more convenient time. In return, your time will be respected when you recontact the prospect. This type of callback has a high probability of success because you have established some positive communication with your prospect.
The second type of prospect is not busy but is trying to find a way out of the conversation. You can distinguish between the two by using an assumptive statement request such as: “Why don’t I call you back in about an hour. Would that be all right with you.” (Note that there is no question mark at the end of this statement.)
You are assuming that if your prospect is truly busy, an hour from now will be an appropriate time to recontact him or her. Remember not to give a questioning lift to your voice at the end of the request. You are not asking for permission. Instead, you are making a statement.
- The Easy Close: If your prospect responds with “No, I don’t want to be called back,” interrupts, or cuts you off at any time during the first four steps of your presentation by saying, “I’m not interested,” or “I don’t like solicitation phone calls,” then use the third function of this step, the “easy close,” by saying:
- “I respect that. If I could provide you with information about (describe what you can send) that you would have an interest in, would that be okay?”
- “I respect that. I would like to provide you with more details about our services. Would that be all right with you?”
Notice the use of the word “provide,” not “send.” The prospect may think you are going to send information, but you may not; it all depends on how the probing step goes. When prospects agree to you providing them information, you must then qualify whether they truly have an interest in the information (some really do) or they are gracefully “blowing you off.” You can qualify their interest by saying:
- “To ensure that what I have to provide you with would be something you would have an interest in, I need (pause) to verify some information, if you don’t mind.”
- “To determine if you will benefit, I need (pause) to ask you just a couple of quick questions, if you don’t mind.”
It’s only fair that if you are going to provide information, your prospect will allow you obtain some additional information so that you can determine if they would benefit. Amazingly, you will find many prospects who will allow you to continue and answer your qualifying questions. No longer are you sending information to never be looked at and thrown away. Additionally, using this scenario gives you an opportunity to ask questions to build rapport. Essentially, you are able to enter into Step Five (the probing step) without the prospect realizing it. The easy close is just another technique that will help you to maintain control and make your contacts count.
Keep the Dialogue Going: The easy close keeps the dialog going. It also tests your prospects to determine whether they are in the 10 percent “no” category or simply not in the mood at the time of your call. About 10 percent of the market will say no to everything; therefore, expect it and don’t be dismayed. It’s not a rejection but rather a statistical reality. Actually, you have just weeded out, in fewer than twenty seconds, someone with whom you don’t want to waste additional time. The prospect that is truly busy will agree with your request to call them back or suggest a better time.
The prospect that only claims to be busy will use the “respect their time” statement as a way out of the presentation and will not want you to call back. Their response will be along the lines of “What’s this all about?” or “What are your selling?” or “Get to the point!” In this instance, be aware that your prospect might be trying to catch you off guard, disrupt, or take control of your presentation. If this happens anytime during the first three steps, then proceed to Step Four, Purpose of Call.
The easy close is actually a modification of the fourth step. When you use the easy close, you do not need to go to Step Four; you can just proceed to Step Five. However, if you did not use the easy close and so far your presentation is going smoothly, then proceed to Step Four.
By following the Twelve Steps, you will not be sidetracked. When your prospect gives you permission to continue or asks, “What is this all about?” you will be prepared to answer, because the next step has already been preplanned for you. Following these steps will keep you in control and help you remain confident throughout your presentation.
Kathy Sisk is president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc.
[From Connection Magazine – November 2011]