Success in Telesales Does Not Come to the Timid or Data Uninformed

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Make sure [your sales people] ask for what they're calling about," said Christina Karabetsos, executive vice president, QCSS, Inc, a telesales and solutions company. "I don't know how many times I've met with sales teams, and they don't ask for what they came for! I can't express that enough. They're scared to get rejected. Guess what? We get rejected 49 times, but that 50th time..."

Karabetsos spoke at Friday's New Marketing and Sales Strategies for Customer Acquisition Conference in San Francisco, an event sponsored by the Specialized Information Publishers Foundation. Here are 11 more takeaways from her charged-up afternoon talk:

1. On a sales call, use your first and last name with the gatekeeper.

2. Don't present your solution to the gatekeeper. Try to build rapport. "I'm calling because I have something valuable to offer." Always be honest and straightforward. If you don't connect with the decision maker, get a touch point via email.

3. Marketing copy from editorial doesn't make for a great sales script. Try to read it at a person. Define the goal of the call and then script it.

4. Use your data. When calling a decision-maker, are you taking the data from an inside sales team and using that in the calls? Catherine Karabetsos, president/CEO of QCSS, told me last year that a big part of their process now is "identifying data points for each prospect or customer we are calling that will be useful during our sales calls. The more data our clients can provide us, the better! We then teach our agents how to leverage each data point during their calls. This not only allows our sales professionals to have more targeted, relevant conversations, but it also helps us to remain that seamless extension of our client's internal teams." (All other quotes here are from Christina.)

5. Keep your pitch to less than 30 seconds.

6. Ask for the appointment or sale on every contact. Introduction/Presentation/Offer/Close. After asking something, be silent and let the customer respond!  The next words will help define the direction of your call so listen carefully. There should be a little discomfort.

7. Handle rejections or objections with clarity. "You will most often be met with a no or hesitation," said Karabetsos. "Be prepared for this! If the prospect doesn't give you a reason why, ask! Attempt a minimum of one rebuttal on every call."

8. Set callback times and follow up when you say you will. "Don't be embarrassed to follow up," Karabetsos said. "You have something valuable to offer them!"

9. Make multiple touches to each prospect. "Don't use voicemails," she said. "Me as a salesperson I want to get in front of them."

10. You have to have people who are hungry to make calls. "Create a job description [for your sales callers] that is straightforward," Karabetsos said. "Ninety percent of their job is making outbound calls. Be clear about that. If they're not [all in], then you have a different problem."

11. Define success for your team. Salespeople needs success. It's in their DNA. Pick a few KPIs and get rid of the noise.

I recall a study reporting that sales phone calls made a half hour after corresponding emails went out did much better than calls later on. QCSS has had success with the reverse. They create, with their clients' help, marketing copy that can be used as follow-up to phone calls. There will be a unique promo code affiliated with the emails that the sales teams send out to help track revenue. The goal is to never leave a prospect without a call to action in front of them.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…