I'll Just Call Your Competition
How many leads did your team turn away this month from lack of phone skills? If you have worked in phone sales for any amount of time, you have heard phrases like, “smile and dial”, or, “they can hear you smiling over the phone…they can also hear a frown.” As old school as it sounds, both are still true. I have listened to communication in different industries from a managerial or consultants perspective for just about 15 years and like most managers and business owners, I will say that I have to agree with both statements.
Walk in Their Shoes
Let’s take our company and our team out of the equation for a moment and let’s put on our consumer hat.
- Have you ever called an establishment to hear, “Hello” and then crickets? Did I call the right place? Am I now qualifying the business that I called?
- Have you ever called looking for a service and feel that you have completely annoyed whoever answered the phone? Did I take you away from something more important? Should I apologize?
My favorite is the “yeah” call. The one where you may have done just enough research to be dangerous, but still need some confirmation that you are on the right track before you commit to driving into a location or setting an appointment, and all you hear from the other end of the phone is…”Yeah.”
- “Do you guys have this type of tire in stock?”…“Yeah”
- “Are you still located at 1234 West Glenn?”…”Yeah”
- “Do you have appointments available for today?”…”Yeah”
At some point, most of us have encountered one of the above scenarios. Now answer a couple of questions.
- What did you do?
- How did you feel as a potential paying customer?
Personally, I will take my business elsewhere. I am not asking for a half-hour conversation about a tire being in stock, but I would like a little more in the way of engagement.
What if this were an emergency situation and you uncovered, from asking a couple of questions, that you can not only get me the tire I need, but you are sending your shuttle (that I had no idea about) on the way to pick me up?
Guess who I’m calling or referring the next time?
Why Should I Care?
Although we utilize our phones and tablets to research before making a buying decision, there are still those industries we will call to talk to someone. Take a quick look at some of the data from Google on the importance of the phone from these 7 key industries:
- Local Professional Services*
*Professional Services: Lawyers, Dentists, Doctors and any cash-pay medical professionals like Dermatologists, Chiropractors, Plastic Surgeons, etc.
Their findings focused on the industries that need to make best use of click-to-call marketing and phone skills:
- 62% of consumers search for auto parts and services
- 60% of consumers search for car rental information on their phone
- 76% use click-to-call to schedule an appointment for professional services*
- 61% of people search for financial services on their smartphones
These numbers lead to the next step in the purchasing process for most consumers. The phone call. This is where our team’s phone performance can affect your revenue. Ask yourself:
- How is my team’s performance on the phone?
- How quickly can I find this information?
- Is the system I use flexible and does it make the best use of, or reduce my time spent in other areas?
- If I can find the information, how many of my leads are being mishandled? Did we give ourselves an opportunity to fix the situation?
- How quickly can we address any potential issues? Real-time? Hours? Days? Weeks?
Inspect What We Expect
Another oldie but goodie. “Inspect what we expect.” This was, and still is, one is my favorites. When I first started out in management, I had no idea how important this one phrase would be to my success as a sales leader and manager. It’s 100% true. If I am training my team properly, I should be able to look at my data and identify bottlenecks in the sales process and most importantly, from my experience, their phone performance.
Yes, we know we should make the time to do this daily, but come on. Our days are long, and the last thing we want to do is add more hours at the end of my day combing through recorded phone calls. As an owner or sales manager, how much time do we have to listen to every call, or even perform an honest spot check of our sales teams phone calls on a consistent basis? Your answer obviously depends on many factors right? Industry, call volume, proper systems, and tools, etc., I get it.
In my experience though, it depended on my available (outdated) tools, time management skills with my daily schedule of deliverables for my superiors and commitments made to training and peer mentorship. Yes, I know, not a good excuse at all, but a more efficient solution to listen, track, and train my team would have definitely helped in many ways.
What solutions do you use currently to identify phone sales skills, address issues, and provide the proper support and training for your sales team? Is your system efficient? What would you change?
About the author:
Noah Carmichael is an Executive Coach and Director of Inside Executive. Noah works with business owners, executives, and their teams on a one-on-one or group basis in areas ranging from personal and professional development to operational strategy and sales accountability training.
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