The biggest part of selling isn’t persuasion. It’s not about being a glib, silver-tongued devil.
It’s about earning the chance to sell.
Like a ballplayer, you can’t hit a home run by warming the bench. You have to get into the game, take the bat off your shoulders, and swing at some hittable pitches.
You need opportunities, chances to succeed. Most companies develop these chances through advertising that implores prospects to call for information.
The ads, by and large, are competent. They make the phone ring.
But the “batters” who are sent to the plate to respond, either fail to swing the bat, or react so feebly, that they strike out, again and again.
If we took half the care in training people to be telephonically effective that we put into our ads, we’d be home free. To prove the point that most inbound inquiry handlers are inept, my firm, Customersatisfaction.com, undertook a mystery-shopping campaign.
Systematically, we called the flyers that had been sent to and left at our business address. These included everything from construction to dentistry to the local YMCA. All we did was say:
“We received one of your flyers about X, and who should we talk to about this?”
In at least half of the cases, the person who answered the phone sounded completely ignorant about the flyer, and couldn’t help us, directly. Of those who knew about it, a majority of them sounded abrupt and impatient, acting as if we had interrupted a more important activity.
Only in one case did we get someone who was ready, willing, and able to help. She works for a hair-replacement surgery group.
While lucid and peppy, she failed to ask for an appointment at the end of the twenty-minute conversation. Also, she made the fatal error of mentioning and bashing her competitors, which has the effect of putting them into contention for business, where they otherwise would not have been considered.
Businesses blame their ad agencies and their promotional staff for failing to deliver quality leads. This is misplaced.
The leads are fine, and they’re probably plentiful. What’s lacking is a capable telephonic response.
In other words, don’t blame the pitcher or the ball or even the batter. Blame the coaches and managers for putting such inept, untrained folks into a big-stakes, major league game.
Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of Customersatisfaction.com, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. A frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide, Gary’s programs are offered by UCLA Extension and by numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. Gary is headquartered in Glendale, California. He can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.