It is amazing to us that firms would spend big bucks on a cost per call basis for inbound calls driven by radio and television and have little or no supervision of the leads.  This begs the question can owners of a business afford to let valuable opportunities slip right between their fingers or do they need to tighten up
the lead flow and management of the leads and maximize every sales call and squeezing every last drop of productivity out of them?

We put this question out to the business world because we have listened to thousands of calls and we can hear disconnect between sales people and prospects and it is not conducive to the sale.  It is very important that sales people have heard and/or seen the commercial whether its radio or television.  Without that how can we expect them to maximize their sales?  It’s like asking a pitcher in baseball to go to the mount without a glove.  It handicaps the sales people.  It is our job to help you with the scripting
so that you can take the marketing campaigns we facilitate and do as well as possible.  If we don’t help you grow, we should not expect you to remain a loyal client.

Several years back, we regularly did live webinars talking about how to handle the calls.  The industries we worked with on this included tax resolution, loan modification, debt settlement and mortgage.  The way many firms we worked with answered the phone suggested sales representatives had inadequate scripting, lack of knowledge on the creative used, lack of clarity as to how the call was generated and were supported by managers who seemed to be in the dark as they were.  My point is that there are ways to fix this and if done properly your sales representatives will perform and you will have more success work any of the inbound calls that come in.  In today’s competitive market place, firms simply cannot afford to waste their leads.  The penalty for those companies that do not put a process in place to minimize it is simply to put up a “going out of business” sign in the window.  Efficiency is key and how well-prepared your reps are for inbound calls wherever they are generated will dictate how well your company does with your inbound call campaigns.

Next we will give you scripting that can be used for any inbound call and for any industry.  We won’t write an entire script for you but we will get you thru the first 30 seconds to two minutes with a good strategy for opening up the call.  Sales People lose clients very quickly if the way they answer the phone is not professional, and this advice should help companies clean things up and enjoy more success.

The best way to answer the phone is……………………Drum Roll Please………………… is “(Company Name) this is (SalesRep Name), how are you doing today? Why do we say this?  After listening to thousands of callers generated through direct mail, television and radio, we have consistently identified a disconnect between sales people and prospects when someone answers the phone in the following ways:

This is XYZ Company, how can I help you?  You can get this type of greeting from McDonalds so why would a professional firm that provides a valuable service allow their reps to answer the phone this way?  We have heard prospects respond to this over and over with frustration and agitation.  One of the best examples I have listened to was a feisty lady who said and I quote:  “You don’t know how you can help me?  You all have a television commercial so you should know how you can help me”.  If you are wondering whether or not that was a sale, it was not. 

Scripting Solution

This is XYZ Company, how are you doing today?  Why?  The reason is simple.  You are going to get calls from people that are strangers and when anyone calls in the first thing they are going to do is try and take control of the sales conversation. That is not conducive to application taking and figuring out how your sales solution will add value to their lives and help them meet a particular need or solve a problem.  When you ask someone how they are doing, you are disarming them.  This is especially important if you are in what I call the financial distress industries because every aspect of their lives is turned upside down and to talk with them you
have to keep them organized and on script to get anywhere.  Anybody can answer the question of how they are doing today and you will find that people actually like to be asked how they are doing even if the answer they give is negative.  People want to feel like they count, are heard, and are acknowledged.  This simple question does that.  The advantage is
that it gets them answering questions. You know how they are feeling and you have them on your track and not all over the place.  Those that control the sales process get the most applications and close the most sales.  In the financial distress industries, you can bet that they will be a little scattered being that they are consumed with worry!  Help them stay on track with this simple opening question.

Just because you get through the initial opening question does not mean you are out of the woods yet.  Remember it is about getting them to the front end of your application and making sure it is completed as painlessly as possible for both parties, but most importantly for the prospect. The next question and response is pretty basic as well, so here it is:

So at this point you should have heard I’m great, I am unhappy, I am horrible, I am pissed off, I am better than ever….whatever it may be.  You at the very least know a little bit about their mental disposition and their emotional state so that is good.  This is the response to that:

If they return the gesture and ask how are you? Respond positively and the first thing you need to do is say something like: 

“ Great! And who am I speaking with”? They give you a name. Nice to speak with you today (Name).  Just in case my phones system drops the call, what is the number to call you back
at?  Then ask them to write down the number that represents your direct line….this is critical!  This is critical because if you don’t, they will right the 800 number found on the radio or tv commercial and they will end up with a competitor’s company which isn’t good for you.

Once you have the numbers situated you want to get back to moving the prospect back towards the application.  Here is what to say:

So (Name), how did you hear about us?  This is huge because this is how you leverage
your knowledge of the commercial and match it up with customer expectation.  Knowing what the customer heard or saw helps you seem professional and definitely changes the way you script.

The follow up question to, “how did you hear about us?” is the following:

(Name), what is it about the commercial that has you calling in today?  This is a non-invasive and non-threatening way to get a client to tell the sales person what is going on in their lives.  This is important because it sets the groundwork for a conversation where a sales rep builds rapport by creating an environment for a potential customer to painlessly tell sales reps details about their current situation that gives details that are pertinent to qualification.  This is not a single magic bullet strategy but it does set the call the right direction.  Let me give you a couple of examples of how firms in the financial distress industries get this wrong every day.

Debt Settlement Industry:  XYZ Company, this is John, do you have at least $10,000.00 in debt?

In this open there is failure written all over it and so let’s dissect this question and go over what was lost here.  Right out of the gates there is no rapport building.  Given that the conversation speaks to personal, invasive and sensitive info, why would anyone comfortably
answer this question if at all?  Even if they do answer, does this potential client have any emotional connection to the sales rep?  Absolutely not!  And so this is not a good way to open the call.  In addition, the sales rep does not know their first name, did not write down a number if disconnected, did not get them to take down their direct line and does not know what the source of the call was.  If you don’t see a problem with this and you are managing inbound sales leads and sales people, then we probably can’t help you.  This is not a
sustainable sales methodology.

Tax Settlement Industry:  XYZ Company, this is Bill, do you have at least $10,000 in IRS Debt? 

Nobody in the world is comfortable with this conversation and you are still a stranger.
The longer you feel like a stranger the less likely you are to create an environment that feels safe enough to divulge private and personal details.
 Both of these responses do little to show a potential customer that you care.  People want to feel like companies care and my hope is that they are cared for and respected.  By beginning a conversation like this there is already a negative vibe.  You may not get to the question “what was it about the commercial that
has you calling in today”?  You have already sent the conversation down the wrong path.

As long as the right questions are asked as suggested above, the sales person will be able to smoothly transition into telling the prospect what the company does and how it helps people. This has the sales person prepared to affirm to them that the company helps people and
families just like them using examples and stories that are relatable to the person that is on the other end of the line.  This is effective. 

Beyond this point, it is gathering application information and gaining valuable insight into the needs and qualifications of the potential customer. This comes with a lead into application questions that go something like this:

Okay John, This will only take a few minutes.  What I need to do next is gather basic information about your situation and then I will be able to determine exactly what we can do for you?  What is the correct spelling of your last name?

Beyond this, your sales people should be good at taking information for the application.
Our job is to make sure you open the inbound calls from radio or TV with professionalism and rapport building that allows you to maximize your inbound call sales opportunities.  Without a
well-thought out plan, your sales people will underperform and your sales will suffer.
light at the end of the tunnel is to educate your sales staff on how to take inbound calls with a script that allows them to build rapport early, get the prospects first name, take down an important call back number for the prospect, verify that the prospect writes the sales representative’s direct number, identifies how the prospect heard about the company, ask what about the commercial has them calling in today, briefly explains what the company does and then requests basic information about their situation that is the driver of a full application. This will increase sales.

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