Cutting your losses on a non productive call

You already know there’s no interest, the person isn’t looking.  Depending on the product or service you’re working with, there maybe some need to cover objections.  Leave the website with them and thank them for their time.  Your next call might be somebody with an interest and you get that solid appointment.

How to increase your ratio of quality appointments – if you’re getting nowhere after a certain period of time, get off the phone. In the short run, yes, you might get more money out of the client for your pay.  But we’re looking at long term.  You want more money per hour out of a future client.  So work yourself up to that level.   If you have the option to leave messages, if a call comes in, do your best to grab it.  It might be an appt.  Thus, you’re spending less time on the phone so your boss is happy (less they have to pay you) and your increasing their quality appointments so the client is happy.  Continue this and once people learn your work, you’ll have higher level positions (higher pay!) contacting you!

It’s the information age and there’s now a whole industry devoted to collection and use of information.  Some of this usage can be scary to the point of ID theft so it’s understandable some people can get upset over finding out their information is someplace they didn’t have knowledge of it going.  In the event somebody is upset to the point of contacting your employer, it’s important to not get upset or scared yourself.  As long as you are on the level, give the problem to the appropriate person – your employer.  And let it go.  Those calls are thankfully few and far between.  I can think of one call in which I could potentially see it going in that direction and since a) I of course couldn’t reveal the answer and b) it’s not something I should deal with, I just took very strong control of the call – with a six figure executive.  I did the equivalent of running right over him, thanked him for his time and got off the phone.  There have been times where I would have loved to have recorded calls to give examples.

I can take strong control of a call, even with a six figure executive.  On the other hand, there are times when the other end controls you and it’s not entirely bad.  People are understandably suspicious of a cold call and they have questions they might hammer you with.  You may or may not get that lead or appointment, it winds up being more of a public relations call.  You earn trust in a different way – being willing to give information without insisting on a lead or appointment at that moment.  Some people will not be convinced any other way of the company you represent without them being allowed to research you on their terms so you give them the information you have to the best of your knowledge and go onto the next call.

How many times have you been in the presence of somebody who doesn’t take no for an answer?  There’s stress on both ends.  The person presenting the idea already hears the phone being hung up but the phone room manager and/or company policy insists on x number of objections.  The person hearing the idea is angry that no – for whatever reason – isn’t being understood.

Know when your prospect has said “no”.  Many won’t say those magic words, “Not interested”.  Listening between the lines to the tone of your prospect will save both of you stress.  No stress on them allows them to look at you on their terms. Down the road they may determine that they actually want your services and will not only remember that you treated them with respect by not objecting them off the phone but they might actually give you referrals.  No stress on your part for letting them go means a) you’ll keep your job longer and b) you’ll find the next enthusiastic “yes” that shows up and is a sale.

Try  to match the tone of the person you’re speaking with as closely as you can.  As a northeasterner, the toughest tone for me to match is Californian.  Their culture is different enough from mine so I have a tough time relating to them.  When speaking to CEO’s, they want to get to the bottom line quickly so the more focused you are on getting to the point, the better.  They’ll let you know if they have time to be chatty so you can relax with some, talk with them and develop a better prospect.  But until that time, “just the facts, ma’am”.  From that extreme – to the person who sounds like they’re mortified, frightened of you.  Understand you may not have a lead here.  Their voice is very quiet.  YOU need to be quiet and gentle as well.  They’ve run into way too many aggressive people over the phone or that’s just the way they are.

You call somebody and they attack you.  They’ve had a bad day, too many phone calls so they aren’t listening anymore.  Cut your losses, tell them what you are if they’re willing to listen to that and let them go.  No lead here.  Or, you called, left a message and they called you back to attack rather than just blowing the call off.  Thank them for calling, they could have just deleted the message and googled.  Who are you, what are you selling?  If you’re interrupted while trying to answer their question, point out that you’re just trying to answer their question.  Bad day, too many phone calls, i.e. not listening.  Leave them with the website, don’t try to get that lead.  It’s not there.

The telemarketing world has generally brought it on itself to have people play pranks and games on the worker.  So when I get it, I generally shrug it off.  There are occasions though where you’re dealing with higher caliber professionals.  I normally take into account people have a bad day, they may be the umteenth phone person they’ve spoken to in that day, etc. so most times irritated people just slide off my back.  The higher caliber professionals are much better educated, tend to behave much better.  They generally treat others with respect since they have their own self respect.   I need to speak in a different language with these professionals.  I’m simply informing them and inviting them to come in.  No harm done if they decline, maybe this isn’t a good time for them.  I…can surprise people who are asking for bluntness with…being blunt.  A blunt, monosyllabic answer can be an embarrassment  for someone who isn’t listening, saying, “I’m trying to tell you the answer but you’re not allowing me to.  Have a great day”.   There are many ways for a person to not be listening.

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The Psychology of Letting them go

It’s not uncommon that business owners, managers only look at the short term.  They’re looking for immediate results when it comes to hiring a marketer.  It’s also understandable, they’re looking for the most bang for their buck as soon as possible.  They’ve probably also hired so many people to market their business that they’re fried on the idea.  Everybody claims to be able to get the job done but the ROI each time is garbage.

So the idea that I would happily “let a fish off the hook” might sound absurd – but it often works.  Time is money, you don’t want to waste time on an appointment that you felt like you had to sell the person on and they wind up not showing.  Provided the person allows you to do so, explain the appointment.  Then allow them the option to back out so it’s a quality appointment – acknowledge that they said up front they were happy where they were, but I thought I’d explain this to you to see if you’d like to sit down and have a chat anyway.

I did this for commissioned salespeople.  I’d set the appointment, they’d go out and the product sold.  I did this enough so I remember overhearing a manager asking why all the salespeople would hover over my desk, looking for leads.  She was told “her appointments sell”.  When you’re on commission, every appointment counts if you have a mortgage, car payment etc.

Keep it Simple

Life is complicated enough.  People don’t have time. They’re tired. Their brain hurts.   Don’t throw the kitchen sink at them.  No need to yell to get people’s attention.  Speak softly, use small words.  Although you might be accused of being simple, simple still gets the job done.  People like simple because so many things are complicated.  One step at a time.  Introduce your company with one product.  Let people get used to it, find out if they like it.

Why is marketing done?

Marketing is done because you can have the best product, service or website out there and nobody knows it’s there.  The art of marketing is based on finding buyers and encouraging sales for a product or service.  A business has a product or service that will benefit people in some way.  Commercials may promise a product or service will “change your life”.  For some people, that might indeed be the case.  You need to find a way to target the people who would buy this product and approach them where they are.  Some people won’t be reached by phone exclusively so a combination of different places may be used.  Language is important to a point.  Some words bring positive things to mind, other words you try to avoid.  Image, pictures are important.  What does x mean to you?

Why is that tool (the phone) so scary?  You don’t know what the person on the other end is going to say?  You don’t know what you’ll say?  As for the second question, figure out what the likely questions are going to be, at least to the best of your knowledge, and figure out how you’ll respond.  It can be a funny learning curve that I’ve experienced many times – I’ve got somebody on the other end, what do I do with them?   You might get a question that isn’t anticipated so you fall on your face and sound like you weren’t trained.  Oh well.  Consider it a trial to see what will work.

History

Looking up the history of sales and marketing takes a little searching.  The nature of marketing is sheer numbers and everybody builds a better mousetrap.  Thinking back into human history, possibly the first sales happened as trades rather than a product or service for a currency.  In 1450, Gutenberg’s metal movable type for the creation of flyers and brochures is arguably the start of something anywhere remotely close to what we understand in 2014 for marketing. Telemarketing started in the 1950’s.  And as much as many people swear by online advertising and the death of phone marketing, even today it’s still the best way to reach people.

“Telemarketer”

The term conjures up images of the pushy salesperson calling at dinnertime that won’t take no for an answer til you hang up on them.  Probably one of many reasons the answering machine was invented, caller ID to screen.   It’s not a pretty picture and it’s one that has no reason to be around anymore.  With customer service being huge in this era, people are not afraid to get the name of the company and raise hell on social networks to alert others to this call or that.   All it takes is one irritated person, customer or not, to start an avalanche of bad PR.  Good PR is like trust.  It’s real easy to lose it and it can take forever to gain it back.

 

For the person who works on the phones, you have to develop a thick skin and be aware that people aren’t rejecting you, they’re rejecting the product or service you’re talking about.  That being said, there are days when being on the phone just isn’t a good idea. Even the pros have bad days.  We’re still human.  Put on that suit of armor and if people don’t want what you’ve got, just write that down with each call until the suit wears thin. That’s when to call it quits.   If you like people at all, understand that everybody has bad days – including you.  The sooner you can respect that on both sides of the phone, the better you’ll be.

The tide has changed for the better

As a work at home person I keep a finger on the pulse of the work at home world. I’ll often have some kind of random job search going in my fields just to see what’s out there. Today I was very excited to pull up a job opening that shows the field of phone work has turned into the customer service or public relations job I’ve been treating it as for over five years.
I’ve been writing about some of my experiences and why I operate the way I do. Maybe it’s time to start blogging a little about it. I’ve often wondered about writing a book about it but I prayed about it. Not sure that’s direction I should go in. Maybe just bite sized blog posts. I’m open to teaching others as well. Maybe this field is turning. Instead of being an often brutal job that had high turnover, maybe if the focus is public relations/customer service instead of hammering that sale or appt, people would be more open to staying. The PR would go up and it wouldn’t be quite so much considered the pariah it has been.
You’ll also note in a couple spots my blog a little dated: 2014, 2015. I started the blog about that time, last edit was September 2015. 95% of this is still applicable.

Pick up the phone

How (now over) 25 years of rejection gave me a Masters in the Soft Sell and a minor in Human Psychology

“Pick up the phone!! Pickituppickituppickitup, come on, pickitup, PICK IT UP!!”  Before the answering machine picked up, the voice was screaming!

A friend of mine once had this for a ringer on her cellphone.  I thought it was hysterical and it can illustrate the pariah that the phone can be for so many people, even those who are experts in marketing.  Picking up that phone.  It can accomplish so much and yet it can scare the daylights out of people for so many reasons.