TELEPHONE TIPS: It’s Not About YOU

TELEPHONE TIPS: It’s Not About YOU

Because there are no visual clues, you must sharpen your listening skills. The following are tools and tips I use to improve my ability to practice the HEARD Process.

Before Answering the Phone

  1. Take a deep breath. This helps to refocus and switch gears from other tasks at hand.
  2. Remove or minimize distractions such as your cell phone, IPhone or music source.
  3. Turn away from your computer to avoid the temptation to check emails during call.
  4. Silence audio computer email notifications.
  5. Greet the caller and SMILE. (They can hear this in your voice.)

The  “I’m here for you now and later too” Call:

These are suggestions for the second or third call with your colleague/client/customer. It occurs after the initial introduction call from the sales and/or implementation team. The purpose is to begin to build a trusting relationship:

  1. Be proactive. Don’t wait for the customer to call with a problem. Call them first.
  2. Ask if this a good time to talk? Sometimes you can hear noise or other distraction in the background or there is just a hesitation in their voice. It’s always good to ask permission to proceed.
  3. If the timing is not good, ask when they might be available to talk. Schedule the call and stick to your appointment.
  4. Explain your reason for calling. “I’m following up on ……..
  5. Your calling to help and make an offer to move a project forward by saying “What else needs to be done and how can I help you reach your deadline?”

Other helpful tips:

  1. If you work in a noisy and distracting environment, consider finding a more quiet space especially for a difficult call when listening well is critically important.
  2. Have a beverage available to sip in case your voice becomes dry. When we are nervous, our body automatically responds to stress with shallow breathing which can make our throats dry.
  3. Take notes to keep your mind from wandering as the call progresses. This is especially important when the prospective member has an accent or speech challenge.
  4. Prepare a checklist of items you need to cover with the person before completing the call prior to commencing the call.
  5. If the office is unexpectedly noisy, ask if you might call the prospect back at a mutually convenient time.

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!

 

I Hear You But I Can’t See You

I Hear You But I Can’t See You

If you are like most sales people today, more than half of your customer conversations are via the phone, not in person. Excellent listening skills become even more important when visual cues are not available.

No matter what you sell; equipment, service plans, ink, paper or lease financing, the phone can be tricky. Good listeners are successful sales people.

I learn my biggest listening lessons in Improv Comedy Class. For the past three years, I’ve performed with an improv comedy troupe in my little town of Bonner Springs, Kansas. I do this just for fun, not money.

As a comedy improvisational actor, I attend classes and rehearsals for a total of fourteen hours per month. I commit that time to improve my stage performances. Why do I like Improv so much? One of the main reasons is that Improv makes me a better listener.

How much time per month do you invest in improving your business skills?

Good listeners are super sales professionals. Great communicators. Skilled negotiators. Listening skills transfer to my daily life with my customers, bosses, friends, spouse, and children.

This month, let’s take lessons from my comedy class and apply them to our customer telephone conversations. When visual clues are absent, sharpen your listening skills.

Lease sales tips when you call a customer are:

  1. Remove distractions such as ringing telephones. Put phones on stun.
  2. Turn away from your computer to avoid the temptation to check emails.
  3. If you work in a noisy environment, consider moving to a conference room or private area in which to conduct sales calls.
  4. Close your office door if you have one, to discourage others from entering and creating visual and auditory distractions.
  5. Have water available to sip in case your voice becomes dry.
  6. Take notes of your customer’s comments to keep your mind from wandering as the call progresses. This is especially important when there are multiple parties to the conversation.
  7. Prepare a proposed agenda for the call and distribute before conversation commences. Allow all parties to add to the agenda before the call begins.
  8. Send all call participants a summary of call assignments or commitments made and timelines for the next step to keep the selling process moving forward.

As you work on your listening and communication skills, success will follow you to all parts of your life.

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

If your customer leases, here are a few ways to distinguish you from the regular sales people.

Many sales organizations assume that as soon as equipment is delivered the job is complete. The service organization takes over. Sales must wait for the next equipment release to sell more to their customer.

As you separate yourself from the rest of the salespeople, you can provide that little extra help that sets you apart from your competition.

  1. Counter-Signed Copies: Be sure that the leasing company sends your customer, copies of the counter-signed and fully executed documents. Let your customer know that you facilitated this follow-up item. Few Lessors’ send out fully signed contract packages. I assure you, at some future date; your customer will try to find their contract copies and will think of you with gratitude.
  1. Track Lease Expiration: At lease commencement, make note of when your customers lease expires. When the lease commences, enter into your customer management record, the date that each customers lease ends. Schedule customer calls with follow up reminders months before the lease terminates…
  1. Ahead of the Pack: Besides having a jump on your competition, you help your customer avoid falling into a lease automatic extension. A lease extensions means that the equipment stays and the customers rent continues longer than the original lease term. They are paying extra payments on old equipment. Your plan to upgrade that customer is delayed by the lease automatic renewal.
  1. Leasing Company Profits: You’d think the leasing company would send the customer a letter to tell them the lease end is approaching. They do not. It would be good customer service for you to help your customer remember that their written, end of lease notice is due. Leasing companies don’t send end notices because automatic renewals are a big contributor to leasing company profits. Lease extensions or forced equipment purchases delay your next sale and cost your customer extra money.
  1. Timely Notice: If your customer does not give the leasing company written, timely, end of lease notice, the customer loses purchasing flexibility and control.
  1. End of Lease Options: Your customer must give the leasing company notice of their intent to do one of the following:
    1. Purchase the equipment.
    2. Renew the lease for a period from a period that may be as long as one extra year.
    3. Return the equipment to the leasing company.

Doing a little extra work today will place you at the front of the sales brigade for more business.

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!

I Don’t Know You. I Don’t Trust You. I’m Not Buying.

I Don’t Know You. I Don’t Trust You. I’m Not Buying.

Many sales professionals believe their biggest selling roadblock is that they “Don’t Ask for the Order.” When sales managers review their team’s progress, they ask, how many times did you attempt to close the sale?

An old sales myth is that you must hear NO! 10 times before you get to YES.

Here are some of the “excuses” sales managers hear when dissecting a lost sale.

  1. I guess I didn’t ask for the order at the “Right Time” or use the “Right Words”.
  2. I was afraid they’d say NO.
  3. Rookies blame customers who didn’t allow enough time to listen to the whole sales pitch.
  4. Some reps use the excuse that “I caught the customer on a bad day.”

I believe that a significant portion of the customer sales reluctance is because the sales rep did not gain the customer’s trust.

We live in a rush, rush, close the sale quickly world. With email, voicemail, virtual meetings and on-line presentations, digital contract signatures, and a plethora of non-face-to-face sales tools, we constantly hear about efficient selling.

What I find is that many sales people do not invest the time to conduct face-to-face meetings. Some say that driving to an appointment for one prospect is a waste of time. It’s smarter to have a virtual meeting with many prospects every day.

Last year, I taught a Body Language workshop for 75 real estate professionals from a large brokerage in my part of the US. We discussed reading their seller’s Body Language. The agents admitted that they ‘re not great at reading Body Language because they usually only get in front of a customer one time. They said that most customer communications were via phone or email. They rarely saw their sellers or buyers.

If the prospect was a seller, they met that individual at the time of the formal “Sales Presentation.” Big Money Realtors have real estate assistants who looked at the seller’s property, talked to the customer and did information gathering.

I was shocked at learning this. The slam, bam, thank you ma’am technique was not new to me. However, when dealing with the biggest asset a family will ever own, could the investment in up close and personal time to establish trust and build a relationship, be an antique idea? How about in your organization?

My husband sold real estate for 20 years. He always took the time to get to know his buyers or sellers over a cup of coffee. He visited them in their home, met their pets and maybe their children. He took time touring and admiring the sellers home. He laid groundwork for a trusting friendship.

He was known as the agent who could save his fellow agents deals when it looked like all was lost. I believe that was because he had honed his skills at reading customer’s silent signals and knew how to gain trust quickly.  He knew that Trust Takes Time.

How about you? Are you getting to know your prospects? Are you letting technology keep you from gaining your customers trust?

As Zig Ziglar, the first motivational speaker I ever heard said, “If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”

Body Language to Watch for During the Proposal Process

Body Language to Watch for During the Proposal Process

During every step of the sales process, it is important to observe your buyer’s body language. As you lay out your proposal, be sure to watch for certain movements, positions, and other facets of body language. If you are able to understand the clues listed below, you will have the inside track on your prospect’s thinking:

  1. Body Posture: Do they lean towards you or away from you? Leaning closer is usually a good sign, unless they are hearing challenged and must do this to understand your message.
  1. Hands: If hands are in their lap, it may mean they are hiding something from you or their mother taught them that a “lady” never puts her hands on the table.
  1. Are their arms folded across their body? This can signal that your client is cold or are they closed to your message.
  1. Eyes: You’ve probably heard that eyes are the mirror to the soul. That may be true unless your customer is taking a medication that dilates their eyes or they are a trained liar. There are those individuals who can look you straight in the face while lying.
  1. Head: Nodding is a good sign, right? Yes, unless the customer is just a nice person who wants to encourage you to keep improving your sales skills and has absolutely no interest in your product or service. They just like you as a person and don’t want to hurt your feelings.
  1. Voice: If your prospect is a woman and her voice rises an octave or it becomes deeper and her pace slows, she may be excited with your presentation. However, this can also mean she is angry and losing her patience.
  1. Feet: Yes the feet can tell you if you have a chance to close the sale or your buyer is ready to walk out the door. Drop your pen on the floor and bend over to pick it up. See if their feet are facing you or the exit. If they are facing you, you have their attention. Feet facing the exit means you better finish up or retrace your steps. The prospect wants you to leave.

Body language is not easy to interpret. It takes study and practice. Once mastered, you will be able to modify your own body language as well as accurately interpret your customer’s hidden signals in order to close more sales.

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!

Who do you sell to? Clients or Customers?

Who do you sell to? Clients or Customers?

Recently, a Pennsylvania commercial printer, we’ll call Mike, called me for help. He heard that I specialize in equipment lease negotiations. Mike was at the end of a three-year lease on two digital copiers. He wanted to buy the equipment. As I live by the rule “everything is negotiable if only you ask,” I assured him I could help.

Do Your Homework

Negotiation step one is to research all available facts. “Knowledge is power,” Sir Francis Bacon advised. The more I know about my customer’s wants and needs the better I am at negotiating.

Here’s what I did to prepare.

Step 1. I researched Mike’s short-term and long-range equipment plans, and gathered copies of the lease contract, information on the leasing company, equipment dealer and investigated used equipment values.

Step 2. Prepared a plan for the various negotiation outcomes.

Step 3. Located the right person with whom to negotiate. I started with the leasing company and was told that the dealer controlled the end of lease purchase price. Not to spoil the story, however, sometimes what we are initially told is not the final word.

The dealer salesperson was identified as my “go to guy.” It became obvious after two discussions that he: 1) Had little authority and 2) If he had power, he was unwilling to lower the purchase price. He felt that he had given the customer several opportunities to accept HIS proposal for a lease extension. What did the customer want? Mike wanted to purchase the equipment, not sign a two-year lease renewal.

Numerous telephone conversations ensued. The dealer position remained unchanged.  The salesman’s voice indicated his boredom with the negotiation and an unwillingness to make any concessions. He had no further interest in helping Mike. He was only interested in his position. Did he win the battle but lose the war? YES.

Step 4. Don’t give up. Go back to the beginning. Mike’s story concludes happily. I returned to the leasing company and finally reached a manager that uttered the beautiful words “You’d like to negotiate? I can help you.” She immediately reduced Mike’s purchase price by 50%.

Are you listening to your customer? Do you work as their partner or are you in the deal for a commission check? That is transactional thinking. Instead, build relationships. I refer to my “customers” as clients. I am an adviser and confidante. What do your customers call you?

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!