Dew: When I get a call back from one of my prospects, I often find myself sending them to voicemail because I don’t have their information at my fingertips. How do I get over the fear of answering the phone on the spot? -Jake
Jake, this is a very common problem – especially from sales professionals who have just started at a new company or are selling a new product line. But just about any sales professional can fall victim to that small moment of panic when a big prospect calls at an inconvenient time.
Most sales professionals feel much more confident when we are doing the calling; you lay out your product information and all of the research and notes you’ve gathered on the prospect before you call, you pump yourself up, go into “attack mode” and make the call. But most of the time you have to leave a message and it always seems like the prospect calls back right when you are distracted with something else. If you don’t take that call, far too often that prospect goes to voicemail and you are never able to get in touch with them again. Don’t risk losing that opportunity!
The first step is to get organized. Notes for the prospect should be easy to find – make sure everything is documented in your CRM (even if you are just using Outlook or your phone’s contact records as your CRM). Just about every system has a notes section on the contact record – use it! In addition to everything you have talked to them about, make sure you list your own thoughts and ideas for the products or services you are pitching. This should be easy to pull up on a moment’s notice. If you run your business from a smart phone, then you need to make sure all of your prospects are in your phone. This is usually done by syncing your phone with your contacts in Outlook, but however you do it, create a contact card for every person you are calling. Then when your phone rings, you have their name and company name on the display.
If you have a lot of printed materials or handwritten notes that you need in front of you, then keep a file folder for each prospect (you may find it easier to keep a good physical files system if you have a stack of manila folders and a small, inexpensive label maker on your desk).
If you are still learning product and pricing details, I suggest you have that information somewhere where it is at your fingertips at all times – print “cheat sheets” out and hang them on your walls, keep extra copies in your car, etc.
Once you are organized, then the fear of not having the information will go away. Now you just need to take the call and own it. Take a deep breath and answer the phone knowing you have all of the answers you need. If you are new to the position (or the product), just know that nervousness will go away and your answers will get quicker and quicker over time. I have found that once you have done your presentation 25 times, you learn your client’s objections and questions and can handle them quicker and better. So the sooner you can present 25 times, the better off and more confident you will be.
So answer your phone, but please follow the rules of phone etiquette that I talked about in my previous article. If you don’t have time to give your full attention, then you have to honor your client’s time. Sometimes your only option is send them to voicemail and pray they leave a message.
Until next time – go sell some stuff!
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