Success in Telephone Sales with incoming enquiries is measured in conversion rate. What percentage of incoming calls can I convert to a sale? The higher the percentage, the better the Telephone Sales Person, a skilled and experienced Telephone Sales person will convert a higher percentage of enquiries to sales than will a poor performer. Here we look at a few key Telephone Sales skills and tips that will help you achieve a higher conversion rate.

As a trainer and consultant in the area of Telephone Sales, I am often asked - what are the secrets of success in the Telephone Sales? Of course, this is a very complex question! But here I give just a few common factors that I have found in the best Telephone Sales people. I have also used these methods in Telephone Sales Training to coach and train Telephone Sales Teams who have gone on to much higher performance. We focus here on the area of incoming enquiries, and how to convert more enquiries to sales.

Work at Your Craft
One of the most fundamental characteristics that distinguishes the mediocre Telephone Sales person from the Best of the Best is that the Best always want to get better! They work at their craft. This is generally not true of poor performing Telephone Sales people. They are often focused on reasons why they CAN’T get better, like poor quality products, disinterested callers and better competition.
The Best Telephone Sales people are focused on getting better, on finding some edge that will ensure they can meet or exceed their targets today, this week and this month. What one thing can I work on next week that will improve my focus with my Callers? Which of my skills on the call will I work on today? What can I do to improve my ability to close more sales? What can I work on to improve my positivity, my motivation, my ability to believe that I can be successful?
What the poor performer doesn’t appreciate is that all these are Telephone Sales Skills! How to make myself more positive, or increase my belief that this caller will say ‘yes’ – these are skills to be worked on, practiced and improved!

Focus on the 2% Increase
One of the skills of the successful Telephone Sales person is the ability to set themselves realistic targets, and to plan HOW they are going to achieve those targets. These are their own personal targets, not the Company’s, and they will set themselves a target for the week, and for each day. The focus of their target will vary. They might set a target of the number of sales today, and their conversion rate tomorrow. They won’t set themselves a huge jump in figures – like 10% increase in your conversion rate.
A huge increase can actually be de-motivating, and it is very difficult to see HOW you could possibly achieve this. Set yourself bite size chunks of increase in your telephone sales conversion rate.
A method I use in Telephone Sales Training is the 2% rule. Why just 2%? Well, according to an old Telephone Sales Trainer I once had, 2% is the perfect target to achieve real difference. Think of the Titanic, the ship that went down taking all those poor souls with it. How much would it have to move to have AVOIDED that ice berg? According to my old mentor, just 2 degrees of movement would have saved all those lives. 2 degrees is a small amount, but it can have a huge impact on our lives.
We use the same thinking in improving sales results with incoming calls. Look for just 2% improvement here, 2% there, and it soon adds up. For example, if you focus for a week on improving your skills at the beginning of each call, that might give you 2%. If you improve just one aspect of your product knowledge, that is another 2%. Thinking positively about your Callers is another 2%. This is a lot easier figure to focus on that10% or 15%, much more doable, and all your 2% bites will soon add up!

Focus Areas for Improvement
Identify your goals very clearly – where EXACTLY your batches of 2% will come from. If you focus on too much, you will achieve nothing. Plan what you will work on. Write down your focus areas on a small card and pin it on your computer – e.g. you might put a list of positive phrases up today and a list of good questions tomorrow.
A few Telephone Sales Skills that will definitely contribute to your 2% increase are –

1. Work on your Telephone Call Handling Skills – and start with the BEGINNING of the Call. First impressions count, and it takes just 10 seconds on a telephone to for that caller to decide ‘I like this person, and I want to work with them’ or ‘I am out of here! Ensure your caller gets a warm, professional greeting, like you really are pleased he or she has called. Use positive listening responses, verbal nods to encourage your caller. Get and use the caller’s name, being carefully to use it appropriately for your culture. Focusing on the beginning of your call for one week will be guaranteed to improve your conversion rate that week.

2. Work on your product knowledge. Ensure you really know your products and what edge your products have over the opposition. Have regular blitzes on your product knowledge e.g. working on one product area per week for 4 weeks. Improve not only your knowledge of the product itself, but what VALUE it is to different Customer types.
Think through the Customer’s eyes to get a sound understanding of the benefits of your products and how to explain these positively to your Customers.

3. Profile your Customer types – every line of work has different Customer Types. A poor Sales person will usually be able to build rapport and sell effectively to just one Customer type – and they will be incapable of working with the more ‘difficult’ types. The good Sales person will work at improving their sales skills with each Customer type in turn – perfecting their ability with each one. Work on your approach, the language style, the benefits you offer and how you explain these to each different Customer Type. This will lead to more closed sales with each group.

4. Believe that Callers DO buy! Work at building this positive belief. Remember, it is POSSIBLE to sell to any qualified prospect – someone is going to do it! The real difference between your Company and your major competitors is the quality of your Sale people. In one of these Companies is a Telephone Sales person who will close the sale with this Customer. The competition is between you and ‘John’ or ‘Jane’ – make sure you are better!
Remember, plan to work on one focus area per week and you will improve your results from week 1!

Author's Bio: 

Kate Tammemagi is a well respected Consultant and Trainer with Focus Training. She has extensive experience designing and delivering customized Telephone Sales Training Courses and Cross Sales Training.