Despite it having a negative connotation, telephone sales are very effective when done right. When you think of the idea of phone sales, you probably think of telephone marketing, where you get random cold-calls about switching internet providers or a politician trying to get your vote. Everyone who has done sales over the phone is going to have a different philosophy on exactly what makes telephone sales effective, but today we are going to talk about the RAPID approach, which stands for Reconcile, Agenda, Pain, Investigate, and Decision. This approach does not involve cold-calling, and has you setting up a scheduled time to chat over the phone. These appointments could be scheduled on your website or other place of your choosing.
The first thing you’ll need to do when calling the potential customer at the scheduled time is to make sure you are both on the same page in regards to what you will be discussing. Make no mistake, the majority of people you speak with are just looking for free information or solution to their problem, but there will be a minority of people who are already interested.
In this stage, you should greet them and remind them that this call was scheduled and you are excited to help them. When they agree, begin explaining what’s going to happen during the phone call. Generally, these conversations will follow this structure:
- Assess the problem to see if you can be of any help
- Discuss the solution you have for their problem (if you can help them)
It’s important for you to remember, and make clear to the person you are talking with, that there is never any obligation to buy anything. You are simply discussing how you can help make their problem go away.
After the Reconcile stage, you are going to tell them exactly how you are going to proceed with the call. But wait, isn’t that what you just did in the step prior? Well yes, sort of. In the Reconcile stage, you gave a broad overview. Now, you need to put those broad bullets into a sequence of logical steps. This is extremely important because it allows you to stay in control of the conversation and keep it focussed. They are the ones with the problem, but you know your product and have a solution. A sample agenda might look like this:
- Questions about their issue(s). Ask them to get specific
- Discussions of solutions
- Discuss whether or not you can help, and how
Keeping to this agenda will ensure you both know exactly how the conversation is going to happen, and will allow your potential customer to know what’s going to happen during the call.
This is quite possibly the most important stage in telephone marketing. This is where the customer is going to be convinced that they indeed have a problem, and you are the one to solve it. Your main job here is to listen and ask questions. Crystalize in their mind what the problem is by slowing them down to identify specifics. Ask clarification questions and reflect back what they say. Try and identify why they haven’t solved the issue already, and ask them how they think this issue can be solved.
By doing this, you are solidifying in their mind that they have a problem that is easily solved by you. 80% of people decide to buy in this stage, so it’s very important to be as convincing as possible.
The Investigate stage is where you determine if you can help them with their issue. If you can, great! Go into an explanation on your product/service and then ask their permission to sell to them. Tell them about your solution and make a pitch.
If you don’t think that you can help them, let them know. There’s no point in lying to them. In fact, you might even find that by being honest they will come to you when you are able to help them in the future.
This is where they decide to take the next logical step, usually to make the purchase. Sometimes the decision might not be up to them, and in that case the next logical step is to have them discuss it with someone who can. For example, maybe you are speaking to someone about replacing all their office’s printers, but they need to run it by their boss before they can commit to purchasing. In this case, suggest to have a group call with both parties. There is always a next logical step. After a decision is made and you hang up, send them an email recapping the conversation and reiterate what steps they took or should take next.
Telephone marketing is a scary concept, mostly because of the negative stigma that surrounds it. But, given the proper tools and the use of the RAPID method, it can be very effective. Talking on the phone can allow you to answer any questions your potential customer has in real-time, and can allow you to communicate certain ideas more effectively. Despite the negative perception of telephone sales, it’s a tool definitely worth utilizing.
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