Beyond cold calling: Phone skills matter for existing customers, too
  • sales
  • Blog post

Beyond cold calling: Phone skills matter for existing customers, too

Good salespeople spend a lot of time honing their cold-calling skills. And no wonder. They’re starting at zero: no relationship, no track record, no identified need – and, therefore, no margin for error.

But when those same salespeople are calling existing customers, all that discipline often goes out the window. Joe knows you and likes you; the two of you talk all the time. You don’t need a plan to call good old Joe, right?

Of course you do.

Without a plan, it’s easy for your calls to customers can end up sounding something like this:

“I’m just calling because I see your order volume with us has gone down and I’d like to get that back up again.”

Or: “Hi, it’s Keith at Able Supply. You guys got an order for us this week?”

Welcome or not?
When your call is announced to good old Joe, you don’t want him thinking, “Oh, it’s her again. She probably wants to know where my order is.” You want Joe to say, “Sure I’ll take it. She always has great ideas for me.”

The best way to be a top salesperson is to not sound like a salesperson. Every time you call, without exception, you should have a Value Added Point.

That’s defined as anything that allows customers and prospects to feel they’ve gained something simply by talking to you. It can be good news, useful information, notification of a sale, ideas you have – anything the buyer will perceive as useful.

Some examples:

  • “Sandra, it’s Linda with Dino Services. I was studying what you’ve been getting from us over the past two years, and I’ve got an idea here that just might make your job a little easier.”
  • “I heard some interesting information today, and you came to mind as someone who could profit from it….”
  • “When this news came out, I immediately thought about you….”
  • “The last time we spoke you mentioned ______ and I came across something related to that, which might help you to ___.”

The purpose of openings
The Value Added Point is the basis for an effective opening.

In your opening, you don’t want to make a presentation, or ask for a sale or appointment – the customer isn’t ready yet. Openings serve two purposes: 1) to put your listener in a positive state of mind and 2) to effectively transition you to the next part of the call.

Write out your opening. Everything else you’ll say on the call is in response to what customers say, but the opening can and should be prepared, word for word. This way you know it will work.

What’s that, you say? You hate scripts? Think again. You never go to a movie and whine, “Oh, those actors are working from a script.” What you actually despise is the way scripts are delivered. Never sound like you’re working from a script.

When editing your opening, scrutinize every word and idea. Ask yourself, “Is this adding to the effectiveness of the opening?” If not, cut it or reword it. Be relentless in your editing. Better to rip your script apart than have your customers check out.

A final tip: Talk about ideas and results in your opening, not about products and services. People are curious about ideas and results. They resist the mention of products and services because they feel they’re about to hear a sales pitch.

Source: Art Sobczak, President of Selling by Phone. Info:

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