5 Terrific Telesales Training Tips

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell first telephoned his assistant and famously said, “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” Since then, teleselling has been a staple of sales.

Despite videoconferencing and virtual selling, the telephone remains essential for connecting with clients and, especially, prospects. As such, it’s never too early or late to review best practices. Here are five teleselling skills every rep should master:

Your Opening

Whether it’s inbound or outbound teleselling, the opening is crucial. While email is often the first contact, an initial call establishes a first impression. It sets the tone of your interaction. Here are three essentials:

  • Project confidence
  • Generate warmth
  • Exhibit enthusiasm

Confidence comes from knowing who we are, what we’re doing, and where we’re going. But for salespeople, it’s something we must project. This starts with knowing to whom we are speaking and the purpose.

For outbound calls, know the client you are calling. Prepare what you want to say. You have seconds to get to your purpose. For inbound calls, imagine customers with problems hearing a genuine “How can I help?” In either case, your LPS, Legitimate Purpose Statement, is essential. This defines what your call will accomplish and the benefits to the customer. It is the bridge from your opening to your discovery.

When speaking, express warmth. We all want to work with people we like and trust. Often, this starts with a smile. Of course, it’s a phone call. No one will see you. However, with a real smile, there is a difference in your voice. When customers sense you want to help, they want to work with you.

Next, exhibit enthusiasm. This is a genuine desire to understand a customer’s issues. It’s about patience and making them feel important. No matter how many calls you make, the one you’re on is the only one that matters. This is the essence of customer service. It’s being a trusted advisor over a typical salesperson.

Need Dialogue

Whether in person or on the phone, an effective questioning strategy is key. However, for teleselling, salespeople must work against the clock. You don’t have time to waste.

For teleselling, target your questions. On a phone call, you lack body language and other nonverbal cues that speed communication. Also, avoid firing off a list of questions. Instead, incorporate questions into the flow of conversation.

Use a blend of open- and closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions go beyond simple answers and prompt the customer to say more, so they reveal more. Consider the difference in the following:

  • “When would you need the solution implemented?”
  • “How would a quick turnaround benefit your second-quarter results?”

The first is a closed-ended question. It can be answered simply, such as “The second Monday of April.” This answers the question but limits understanding.

The second requires a detailed explanation. This leads to additional insights into the customer’s needs.

Here are the benefits of open-ended questions:

  • Promote dialogue
  • Build rapport
  • Uncover known and unknown needs
  • Understand the customer’s point of view

Compared to open-ended questions, closed-ended questions get a bad rap. While they are not designed to yield more information, they too serve a purpose. In addition to moving conversations forward, they are useful for the following:

  • Maintain or regain control
  • Learn specific information
  • Prompt decision making
  • Confirm facts

Active Listening

On telephone calls, target your speech. Everything you say should provide or receive information. More importantly, listen more than you speak. The purpose of asking questions is to get answers and ensure customers feel heard. This is active listening.

Here are the keys:

  • Listen for content, meaning, and feeling
  • Note vocal presence and body language
  • Remember the customer’s words
  • Summarize and validate

What customers say can differ from their meaning. Top sellers listen for both. Then, gauge the feelings that express needs and fears.

In addition to what you say, how you say it instills confidence. Therefore, before speaking, know who you’re calling, what to say, and how you can help.

One might think body language only applies to videoconferencing. However, nonverbal cues are part of all language, even phone calls. If we are distracted or multitasking, it shows in our voice. But when we’re engaged, customers hear it.

In a rush to close, it’s tempting to hear what we want. We may paraphrase, which can distort intent. Repeating the customer’s words shows you listened and remember. This denotes sellers who care.

In addition, summarize and confirm. This prevents misunderstandings. Repeat all agreements and confirm with closed-ended questions, such as “Do I have that right?” This shows investment.

Creating Engagement

Effective questioning and active listening are the foundations of discovery. But sellers must do more to create engagement, such as:

  • Layer in benefits
  • Keep it conversational
  • Adapt to the customer

On calls, leverage opportunity. Between questions, layer in benefits. Build and expand on the customer’s interest to generate excitement. For example, “I understand time is critical. By boosting production, you can shorten your delivery schedule.”

Of course, too many questions can feel like interrogation. Therefore, limit yours to two or three at a time. And keep it conversational. When customers mention kids or pets, build on that rapport. Sure, you want to learn problems. But selling is a people-first profession.

Flexibility is another asset. While sellers should guide the conversation, let customers lead. If you sense they’re ready to explore solutions, move forward with that discussion.

In the 150 years since Bell’s first call, the telephone has been crucial to selling. From initial inquiries to closed deals, sellers must employ the best practices to connect and build rapport. Today, along with videoconferencing and virtual selling, sellers who master the phone win more. We hope these tips help you excel at teleselling.