Managing the ‘No’ of Sales Calls

Apr 13
sales calls

Managing the ‘No’ of Sales Calls

Do you manage a Call Centre or any outbound sales team? Sometimes it must feel like you’re in the trenches. Taking shots zipping at you from angry customers to whom your team are making sales calls, soothing and cajoling upset and unmotivated staff who, let’s face it, are often halfway out the door onto their next big adventure, and trying desperately to achieve these lofty targets from managers who keep asking you to achieve more with less. More calls, more sales, more resolutions, with fewer staff, a smaller budget for training and development and little in the way of financial incentives. Now please. Sincerely, Every Manager Who Ever Existed. You’ve become adept at pulling a rabbit out of a hat when needed, but boy, it’s hard, and often you’re white knuckling it.

Gosh. Are you ok? It’s not a pretty picture. No one will ever say your job is easy, and if they do then they need a stern talking to. Sometimes a bit of information can go a long way in making some aspects of your job easier. So hopefully this helps.

One of the hardest aspects of an outbound call centre are sales calls. People get very suspicious of numbers they don’t recognise (or private numbers), these days, as we all have very little spare time and we don’t want to spend it chatting to someone we don’t know about a product we probably don’t want. Sales calls are often the lifeblood of a contact centre, though, and they need to be done to generate leads, upgrade customers and keeping your business ticking along.

It might be helpful to understand how to manage the ‘no’ of sales calls so you can coach your team and make sure they manage the rejection and perhaps use it to help them grow a little, personally and professionally.

Know when to call

The start of the week tends to be an important window to get the momentum happening for the week. Consider offering your agents extra or more immediate/same day commission for sales they make on a Monday morning, as if they start the week with some strong results they are likely to continue.

Research your prospects

Your team should know who they are calling, beyond their name and phone number. They should be well versed on what this person means to your company, who they work for, what their current status is- i.e. have they ever been a customer? Did they fill out any customer service surveys? What mood are you likely to get on the end of the phone? The right system should allow you to bring up every pertinent piece of information on your customers quickly and easily. If your team equips themselves with as much knowledge as possible, they can manage whatever eventuates much more effectively.

Get in the right headspace for the sales call

In a call centre agents aren’t given much time between calls to reflect on what has just happened and gear up for the next call. No sooner has someone disconnected, the next call is on its way. It is important they find time to think about what the purpose of their calls are- even if they need to spend some time at the start of each shift doing this. What is it of value they are offering people, and what has worked for them and others in previous calls? A team meeting is a great place to do this- remind your staff that they are actually selling something that will benefit their customers, and there have been many successful calls in the past- so they should feel motivated by that and take learnings from them.

Start strong

Seems like a no brainer, but sales calls should start with a clear, simple statement of who the agent is and where they are calling from. Have you ever been approached by sales people (usually on the street) who try to engage you in a conversation, and you don’t listen, but rather wait for them to cut to the chase and tell you what they are selling? Getting increasingly impatient as they prattle on? It’s not effective.

Be clear, be honest and direct

Tell them very simply the reason for your call. If your agents don’t do this, the best part of the sales call will be spent with the prospect half listening as they try to figure out what it might be this person actually wants, and waiting for a moment to interrupt and ask.

Be grateful

We know people often live frenetic lives, with little time in between work, family commitments and social activities to spend on the phone. If someone accepts a call and spends even a minute on the phone with your agent, they are giving up time they could be using to do something they had planned. Make sure your salespeople understand this and thank the person for spending this time with them. A little acknowledgement of the interruption can go a long way in keeping the person engaged in the conversation.

Gotta know when to fold

Knowing the value in the offer and the value of themselves as salespeople means your agents need to know when they are wasting their time on a sales call. No need to beat a dead poodle, cut your losses and move onto the next one. Teach your team when to recognise when it just aint going to happen. Knowing when to walk away is a skill everyone can carry with them throughout their professional lives- don’t waste time or exert energy on a hopeless cause, and save your skills for the next person who is giving the right signals.

Leave a killer voice mail message

When you listen to your voicemail messages and hear someone you don’t know say something that sounds very rehearsed, the shutters come down on most people’s consciousness and they probably delete the message and move to the next one, without even listening to it in its entirety. But what if your salesperson left a message like this:

‘hi xx. Are you interested in bringing in 50 new leads a month to your windscreen wiper sales team? (or whatever the company is, see above for the importance of research). I just want 3 minutes of your time to tell you how. Please call x from x on x’.

You hit them with something of clear and tangible value to them, relevant to their business, straight away. That will give them a better chance of the prospect listening and maybe even calling back.

Rejection is a part of life- you get rejected in job interviews, by the opposite sex (I’ve heard), friends, children, it happens to everyone, a lot, throughout life. Rejection doesn’t have to mean failure, and in fact gives you a great opportunity to build yourself up and make yourself that much more equipped for the next encounter. Try to help your team navigate through the ‘no’s’ to make them better salespeople, and ultimately make your job a bit easier.


Flickr cc: sam kaulitz