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Making sales calls to the professional services sector

Making sales calls to the professional services sector can be intimidating.    I’ve worked in this sector for over 15 years and picked up the phone too many times to count, here’s what I’ve learnt over the years.

Be unapologetic. The first thing to remember when you’re making that call is that you want to help the person you’re calling.  I have come across sales people who are almost apologetic for bothering someone when they call to discuss an offering. If you believe you are wasting their time, they will pick up on that straight away. You need to believe in what you’re selling, so before you pick up the phone or send an email make sure you have thoroughly researched the person you are selling to and what you are offering them.  This will ensure that you only contact people who are likely to need what you want to sell to them.

Have an objective. What do you want from the call? An appointment? A sale there and then? A referral to someone else? Make sure you know why you are calling and it will help focus your conversation.

Know your stuff and be honest about what you do and don’t know. If there are limitations in your product or service, be up front about it. No one wants to feel like they’ve been taken for a fool, particularly if it could effect their client. If you aren’t straight about something and it comes up later on it will sour the relationship for good. It’s better to win fewer sales but have a long term relationship built on trust than close lots of sales initially that soon tail off as they realise you can’t be trusted. It’s not just your employers reputation at stake, but also your own.

Use war stories. Any stories about the success or failure of your product or service demonstrates that you know your onions and that you’re open and honest about the potential challenges of delivery. Sharing war stories demonstrates that you are aware of problems and how best to deal with them.

Always leave a message. I have worked with plenty of experienced sales people who say they never leave a message. If you don’t leave a message what are the chances of someone calling you back?

Follow up properly. If you’ve had a successful call make sure you send through anything you’ve discussed and leave the door open for you to follow up again at a later date. Your follow up email should include some sort of action that allows you to continue the conversation, this could include a suggested date for another call, mentioning that you’ll be requesting to LinkIn with them or a suggested coffee meeting.

Keep your chin up!  There isn’t a single sales person who hasn’t got through to someone grumpy or rude or been hung up on. Don’t take it personally. The grumpy person has lost out on working with someone who wants to provide a brilliant service to them. If they aren’t receptive to that it’s their loss.  Shake it off, get a cuppa and get back into it – the next person could be your biggest opportunity.

KO Consulting provides sales training within the Professional Services Sector. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

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Kathleen O'Connor

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