Sales. Some say it is a form of art, some say it is cold science. Truth be told, in order to become a sales star, you probably need to look at it from both angles. As we like to put it, art and science are the two sides of the same coin. This is why, if you ever wondered how to get better at sales calls, you should look both ways.
Cultivating your interpersonal and communicational skills as an art form should not exclude the statistical information that can contribute to your overall performance.
This is true for both face-to-face and over-the-phone sales. Regardless if you are a beginner or you just want to improve the overall performance of your sales calls, this article should make your life a little bit easier.
Alright. Let`s jump straight to it and see how you can use both art and science to become a better salesperson.
The Art of Getting Better at Sales Calls
When we say art, we mean personal skills or those qualities that are usually rather difficult to systematically learn and measure. In short, we are talking about something you have to master and train, not something to implement overnight.
1. Own your state of mind
We`ve all answered calls where the agent was reciting his or her lines like a mantra, with monotony and zero emotion. At that point, probably a Text to Speech robocall would have performed better.
Of course, there are a lot of contributing factors that can drive an agent to that particular state of mind. Whether it is fatigue, a high rejection rate, repetitiveness, stress, or some other factor, the outcome is the same. Lethargy instills and selling becomes a psychological burden.
Of course, there is no magical remedy for this problem. Because we are dealing with a state of mind, we can only address it at this level, in two steps:
Paradoxical as it may seem, being aware of this state of mind is half of the remedy. Being able to recognize that you entered this negative loophole is in itself an achievement. This is the point that offers you the possibility to break the pattern.
Change the pattern
Having reached the point of recognizing your state of mind, you now have to change it. Well, easier said than done… In theory, the best way to rewrite a psychological pattern is to replace it with its opposite.
So here is what you need to do: Make a mental note of whenever you are at your best. Remember how you felt, what you said, what was your overall state of mind. Indulge at that moment and try to understand it in all its minute details.
Whenever you fall into that loophole of lethargy, stop, realize that you are doing it, breathe, close your eyes and try to fill the stage of your mind with the memory of that time when you were at your best. Relive that feeling, feel the joy of performing, and absorb every detail of those moments.
Of course, as it is true for most forms of art, practice makes perfect…
2. Rejection is part of the game
If you don`t fully accept rejection with the peace of mind of a Zen master, you won`t last long in this industry. What? Do you think that this is somehow unachievable? Well, this is why some say wisdom is the greatest form of art. It takes wisdom to overcome one’s frustrations. And wisdom comes with practice a self-awareness.
As we all know, rejection is the number one cause of frustration, especially when you work in an outbound selling call center. It is no easy task to disrupt people`s daily activities just to sell whatever you try to sell. It is only natural that you have to deal with a high rate of rejection.
This being said, we would like to offer, once again a two-step solution.
How else can you escape something that affects you in a direct manner than by ignoring it? The good news is that being rejected in a work environment is not as a violent feeling as being rejected in your social life. This understanding is crucial and if you manage to get this difference, ignoring sales calls rejection will come easier to you. But developing immunity from rejection is not the end of the road. The next step is to turn everything in your favor by trying to…
Learn from rejection
If you are more of an analytical type, you could create a mental habit of analyzing the critical points of interaction that led to that particular rejection. In doing so, you will rewire your brain not to associate rejection with failure but with a learning experience. If you manage to reach this point, it should be no surprise that your overall performance will grow in quantum leaps. Getting better at sales calls this way takes you closer to becoming a real-life Zen master in your own right.
3. Learn to listen
Working in a contact center requires a high degree of people skills. And of course, listening is probably one of the most important skills for good communication. But why is it so hard to listen and how can you become better at it?
First, let`s see why is it so hard to listen. As a psychological mechanism, a bad listener struggles with impatience. The fear of missing out on the occasion to make a valuable contribution to the discussion takes over his mind. In general terms, such a person regards EVERY conversation as a competition or a debate. And we all know this often translates into tension and conflict.
It takes maturity and effort to lose this tendency, but once you do, the quality of your interactions will increase tenfold.
Let us now concentrate on what practical steps you can undertake to become a better listener when making sales calls.
As opposed to being a good listener in real life, over-the-phone interactions have some particularities. In a face-to-face conversation, you listen with your whole body, face mimic, gestures, head nods, voice hints of understanding, and so on. Unfortunately, over the phone, you only have to rely on your ears.
This is why attention is paramount. You only extract information from the voice tonality, inflection, tempo, and pauses. These are your main data inputs. Learning to read them accurately means you are a good listener and you will be able to time your interventions with precision and efficiency.
You will know you are a good listener when your conversations will remind you more of a dance, than a simple discussion. You will never step on your partner’s shoes and you always act in sync with him or her.
Let us now move on to the other side of the coin, and speak about the science of becoming a better salesperson over the phone.
The Science of Getting Better at Sales Calls
As opposed to the first part of this article, the second one is a little bit more practical. The technical aspects of how to improve your performance are easy to implement and straightforward.
1. Technology is your friend
You cannot expect to perform well in sales by relying just on your personal skills. In this day of age, we are fortunate enough to have at our fingertips a whole spectrum of tools that can aid and boost our efficacy. We`ve comprised a list of powerful functions that can simplify your life and ultimately help you become better at sales calls.
This is probably one tool that triggers some sort of reluctance from the average salesman. The reason is that instead of operating the CRM software, their energy should better be focused on the actual selling process.
But from our point of view, this reasoning is at least questionable, if not outright wrong. Indeed, not using a CRM will offer you more time on the phone. But in terms of performance, it is fact salesmen who use CRMs sell better than those who don`t.
And if you think of it, this seems a no-brainer. A CRM will bring to the table:
- A host of management options
- Increased follow-up capabilities
- Better organization options for your database
- Priority settings and many more useful features
This function is crucial if you want to save time and automatically optimize your calls. It takes the load off the salesperson`s back and grants him or her more time for the actual sales process. Making use of real-time statistics, this is basically a smart routing function paired with a smart dialer, making automatic calling decisions based on the database you link it to. You can follow this link to learn more about what a predictive dialer is, how it works and how you can benefit from it.
The predictive dialer is a crucial piece of technology that can aid not only salesmen but contact centers as a whole with:
- agent productivity
- reach rates
- conversion rates
- streamlining customer communication
- increasing customer engagement
- lead management
- tracking performances
- generating insights for greater profits
Local Caller ID
Using a Local Caller ID solution will increase contact rates by 30% and the Returned Calls by 400%. The reason is simple: calling someone from a local number projects trust. And we all know how valuable trust is in the selling industry… But as good as it might sound, you need to be careful and implement a solution that is FCC compliant.
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Of course, there are a lot of separate solutions that can improve your success rate. This is why we encourage you to opt for a complete platform that offers everything in one package. This way you can implement everything we`ve covered in this section of the article, and more. Everything without spending too much time searching and adapting to separate solutions. And oh, yes, even the price might be better.
2. Other systematic, easy to implement things to make you a better salesman over the phone
This last part of the article is dedicated to small steps or details that are often missed when starting or advancing in a sales career. Nevertheless, each and every one has its own clear advantages and contributes to an overall increase in productivity. So, don`t overlook any of the entries, even if you are more experienced.
The trial and error method is known to be the best way of learning and reaching the best outcome. And fortunately, contact center agents can lack anything but interactions. So why not put this situation to your own advantage?
What we are trying to say is you should make every call a learning occasion. Test, test, test. Test introduction lines, test adjectives, test various ways of presenting the product/service, test voice tonality… test everything!
Record your calls
Closely related to the testing advice, recording your sales calls is one of the best ways to improve your performance. Coming back to your best and worst interactions can help you in multiple ways:
- Perfect your interaction style by listing the cues and phrases that had a positive effect
- See what went wrong with failing calls
- Find and avoid recurring mistakes
- Perfect your script by analyzing successful patterns of interaction
- Regain your confidence by listening to a successful call
Smalltalk your way in
A common beginner`s mistake is to dive straight to the point of the call – which is the selling part in itself. Not only you will sound salesy from the get-go, but you risk compromising your entire selling effort.
Smalltalk has the great advantage of building that so-called rapport with the person on the other side of the line. You first have to get in sync, and only after that should you start the actual selling process.
Perfect your voicemail message
More often than not, reaching a cold audience by telephone will result in you leaving a voicemail message. (True especially if you don`t use a Local Caller ID solution like the one we`ve talked about in the previous section.)
This is why the voicemail message is CRUCIAL if you want to increase your overall Returned Call Rate. Of course, perfecting your approach to voicemails comes with time. But you should definitely improve your game ASAP if you want to better your overall sales calls performance via voicemail.
It should be clear by now that going straight for the sales pitch is not necessarily a good idea. After you build the rapport – or even during this process – you need to find out what makes your prospect click. And you can only do this by asking questions… strategic questions, that is. Finding out his or her needs, problems and worries can help you customize your pitch for that particular person. The more you know about the person you speak to, the better.
Becoming a superstar of sales calls is difficult, but not unachievable. Especially if you feel like the sales industry is your calling. Of course, even the greatest men and women in history started from the bottom and worked their way up to the top with perseverance and determination.
But willpower alone will get you nowhere if you don`t take a more proactive and practical approach. Sales is a complex business that requires you, on the one hand, to master your inner movements and own the art of persuasion and self-control. The process of self-mastery applies to many careers, but in sales is that much more important. Especially because this is a 1-on-1 game where persuasion and character are not optional, but critical components of doing business. We called this the art of selling.
On the other hand, mastering this art alone is, again, only a part of the full picture. For real success, you need to also study and master the science behind this industry. This means deploying the latest tools, technology, and software, plus making use of statistics and other specific methods like the ones in the last part of this article.
We hope you find value and act on what you`ve learned today to become the best possible version of yourself. We wish you the best of luck and, if you liked this content, we invite you to browse the other entries on our blog. Who knows, you might find something worth reading.
With a background in Anthropology and a passion for digital marketing and copywriting, Georgian enjoys translating complex, often technical, concepts into everyday words. He loves optimizing everything, from texts, marketing funnels, and PPC campaigns to visual creations, social media feeds, or landing pages.