Top Ten Reasons Sales Professionals Fail on the Phone


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Technology comes and goes but the phone will likely be your lifeline to revenue for decades to come. If the phone is one of our primary modes of engaging the marketplace, why do so many sales professionals perform so poorly on this stage?

Selling is about connecting and engaging with the other party. Your sales quota may be stressful, but there’s rarely gain in exposing that to your prospect.

Here are the top ten reasons sales professionals fail on the phone.

#10 Sales professionals don’t understand that people respond in like.
Many sales professional simply don’t get that there’s only one-way people respond to you – in like manner. If you’re underhanded or overbearing you’ll realize the same in return; whereas if you’re upbeat and energetic, you’ll likely experience an attentive partner in the dialogue.

#9 Sales professionals don’t anticipate objections.
Whether you’re asking for someone’s time, company information or agreement on a proposal, you need to expect objections. Very few things are sold without objection and the more relaxed and prepared you are, the better the call will flow.

#8 Sales professionals become combative or stressful.
You’re not likely to achieve your goal if you exasperate the other party; especially if you do it based on a simple objection. Objections will come; deal with them in a joyful state and your dance partner will stay upbeat as well. But drag them into a gunfight and you’ll likely not walk away with the prize.

#7 Sales professionals are not in the moment.
Despite all the hard work invested just to get the decision maker on the phone, many sales professionals simply aren’t focused during the call. Forget about your to-do-list and your other customers and prospects; focus exclusively on the other party.

#6 Sales professionals are patronizing.
We’ve all been there. Some salesperson states something that makes perfect sense, yet the delivery wallowed in a patronizing tone… and so you instantly turned cold. Never patronize your customer, especially those elder to you.

#5 Sales professionals don’t mirror the prospect.
The power of mirroring has been debated over the years. While some professionals take it to an extreme, most sales representatives barely take the time to pace their dialogue to that of the other person; let alone adopt other simple mirroring techniques. You need to match your prospect’s energy and pace of conversation before you start to inspire or otherwise move it to a new level. Prospects like to buy from like-people.

Mirroring is very powerful and involves more than just pace and style. While some professionals scoff at the idea of mirroring their disdain is based on an improper view of the concept of mirroring. Prospects and customers want things on their terms and that includes human interaction in a like manner.

#4 Sales professionals don’t ask for the order.
You need to A-S-K in order to G-E-T. Not only that, but in most sales scenarios you need to ask for the order several times before getting to yes. Be prepared to ask the prospect to do something. The next step in the sales process should be your current goal.

#3 Sales professionals don’t listen.
Is this even possible? Two ears, one mouth; yet, most sales representatives blather on incessantly despite the prospect expressing frustration. A good trainer once explained to me that E + E = E. Expertise plus Excitement equals the Enemy. Sales is about leading with questions, not reciting features and benefits.

#2 Sales professionals have an ambiguous objective.
There have been countless times when a sales professional will get me on the phone and I have to interrupt him or her to get them to state their objective. As ridiculous as it sounds, there have been times when I’ve literally begged the caller to state what exactly they are trying to get me to do. Do you know what you are trying to achieve with the call?

And finally, the Number One reason sales professionals fail on the phone…

#1 Sales professionals don’t ask good questions.
Are your questions simple, yet thoughtful? Do they allow the other party the opportunity to speak on areas that will feed your sales process? Do your questions require the customer to think before responding? Do your questions expose pain or the opportunity for improvement? Do your questions reflect the customer’s world or your own world? There’s an old adage in marketing: “Talk about my lawn; not your grass seed.”

There’s only one thing worse than making these mistakes on the phone… that’s not picking up the phone at all. Get on the phone and start selling. Smile and dial my friend.

The sales profession is a blessed one yet plagued by bad experience and repeated mistakes. If you sell anything for a living, approach it like a professional. Be confident in your ability to help the other party and focus on their needs. Eliminate these ten mistakes and you’ll be on your way to sales success when you engage your prospect on the phone.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kevin Graham
Kevin Graham is an author, speaker and expert on empowerment, sales and leadership. As managing director of Empowered Sales Training, Kevin works with organizations to empower sales success. Formerly, Kevin was a top performing sales executive in the ultra competitive technology sector. He's qualified for President's Club status in three Fortune 500 companies, carried the Olympic Torch and played in a national championship.


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