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Acquiring customers: Things you should never say on the phone

Telemarketing is said to be cost efficient since you don't need to meet every prospect or customer every time in person. You can literally talk to customers on the other side of the planet. But unfortunately telemarketing or acquiring customers through phone also has some shortcomings, especially if you don't know the person on the other site. If you don't know the person you're calling, you might have a hard time meeting his needs and convincing him that your call is worth his while. You won't see gestures and other expressions while doing your pitch. This is especially hard when trying to acquire new customers, hence cold calling people.

Respect to the people working in outbound telesales who continuously cold calling people and trying to win them for products or services they hardly know and usually haven't tried themselves.

What are the no go's in telemarketing?

When cold calling, you might be disappointed and wonder why you're not performing. I did all the mistakes one shouldn't do and never realized it until a coach told me, so I definitely recommend you to talk to a telesales coach or read a telesales book if you're thinking of telesales as part of your sales strategy. We've been so much better after a one day training session, but let me show you some examples you probably haven't thought of.

Putting your potential customer down

You're in the middle of a talk, so your counterpart hasn't dismissed you right away. That's good. But he or she isn't yet convinced and comes up with an argument against your solution or product. It's one you hear all the time and maybe you really think it's bullshit. You tell your potential that this is only a prejudice and you also tell him why. By doing so you impute he or she is kind of wrong and has no idea. Even if you don't mean it, people might see it like this and the friendly atmosphere will change to refusal and later on you'll wonder how you ended up being rejected.

When working in sales, it's quite normal that you hear similar fears or prejudices over and over again. But think again: Your potential customer might be new to all this, so he's just honest bringing up what comes to his mind. You should take these questions seriously and try to improve your reply with every time you're confronted with it.

Posing closed questions

When doing telemarketing, you don't want to be the one talking most of the time. You'd rather be listening in order to understand your counterpart better and meet his needs. By posing closed questions you'll have a hard time getting your potential customer into talking, so you'll have to shoot out question after question until he or she loses interest.

Closed questions can be easily answered with a yes or a no, open questions leave room for interpretation, hence lead to a conversation. You should think about your common questions and make use of open questions that get your counterpart into talking.

Don't answer your own questions

That's what I did all the time when working in sales. The perfect example would be you calling a prospect who wanted to review your proposal or material. You'll say something like this: "Did you manage to review the proposal? I'm sure you're having lots of to do's just before your holidays…". Damn, how easy it is to say "You're right, I haven't had a look" and you can't even be disappointed. That of course doesn't change whether he or she had read it or not, but it takes some pressure out of the process. Obviously it's fine for you to be waiting. It's fine if he or she doesn't reply in time. No, it's not. At least you shouldn't let your prospect feel this way.

How to NOT get the appointment

There are plenty of hard selling experts offering advice that works psychologically, for example: "Don't ask your potential customer if the two of you shall meet, but better ask him if he's available the Tuesday in two weeks". And this one is definitely true from my experience. Many people intuitively start scanning their calendar which says they are now in "making an appointment mode", no longer in "shall we meet anyway mode". And if they recognize, they don't want to admit that they checked the calendar but never wanted an appointment.

It depends on you and what you're selling, if you'd like to start the relationship like this - feeling blindsided. If you're on the other side - being called - and you know some of these "tricks", you'll be in defense mode right away. That said, it's not always a good idea to 'trick' the prospect. It looks a little different, if he or she shows some interest and you're feeling your offer could really be a good match.

No matter how you do telesales or -marketing, be aware of these things and you'll get better over time. That will not only help you to close more deals, but it will make your calls more fun.

Happy calling!

Axel von Leitner
Axel von Leitner