Your presentation skills training makes a huge difference when you pitch over the phone!
I understand that sales calls are tough. TRUST ME. I completely appreciate it. The prospect of making that call has been known to induce a pre-performance panic in me- What willl they say? What if they're rude? What if I'm not present enough? How will I get through? So, clearly, I don't mention the experience I had this week lightly, or with any sense of overt criticism intended. If anything, I mention it with a deep sense of appreciation- it can be rough out there!
I received two sales calls this week from vendors selling a similar service. Let me start by saying that I was not in need of the service at the moment, so we won't gauge the success of the call as to whether or not they made a sale. What we can talk about are the "how's" of the call. In fact, I would call "success" here how willing I felt to continue a discussion with them about their service, just in case I might need it in the future.
Both callers were taking over for people I'd spoken to in the past, so while the call wasn't exactly cold, these folks were new to me. Caller number 1 was not successful- caller number 2 was not only successful, but I would gladly listen to her present on her service in the future. Here's where I think they differed:
1. Vocal tone: Caller 1 used a very limited pitch range, and only a small amount of vocal inflection when delivering his pitch. Because of that, not only as there no "ummmph" to his delivery, it was abundantly obvious that he was reading from a script. Any actor will tell you that the last thing dialogue should sound like is something "scripted". Caller 2 had a much more easy going, free flowing vocal tone, with lots of highs and lows pitch wise. My guess is that she was so practiced at what she was going to say that she could let her voice be a bit more free. Much nicer and more engaging for any audience.
2. Audible smile: Caller 2 had also mastered the audible smile- we always say that, unless you are delivering bad news, there is no reason NOT to smile! A smile can not only be seen, but also heard. It creates an inviting tone and a pleasant demeanor. I couldn't hear any smile present in poor Caller 1's voice- it sounded like he was trudging through a list of phone numbers. Who wants to engage when it sounds like the Caller is frustrated and "over it?" It can be tough, but that smile will make all the difference to the person on the other end of the line.
3. Active listening: Caller 1 delivered his pitch and information. When I let him know that I was not in need of the service at the moment and was unavailable to sit on a 20 minute webinar this week due to my schedule, but would be willing to continue receiving updates on the service, he just repeated his information again- I should sit on the webinar. I'm sure his goal was to get people to that webinar, but unfortunately he wasn't listening- I didn't close the door! So, there was no way to get through to a plan for a future, and I just ended up feeling like I was getting the "big push". Caller 2 had a similar request, and my response was just about the same, but she listened- and listened actively! Her vocal responses told me she was taking the information in. Because she was truly listening to what I was saying, she was able to put a plan of action in place for continued updates on her product.
Like I said, I appreciate how hard it can be to make these calls. But using just a bit of presentation skills training- being mindful of vocal tone and production, keeping that audible smile alive, and truly listening to the person you are speaking to- can result in a warm reception to a cold call. And isn't that the goal, after all?