Are you utilizing outbound phone to generate sales to help off-set the lack of sales via your tasting room? Ecommerce and phone sales are the two main ways of gaining back revenue, but phone is the only way to really connect with your customers in real time.
Whether we’re redeploying staff to make outbound phone calls or hiring new staff, just with any other job profile, outbound phone skills are specific to the task we’re asking our team to perform. Here is a path to success for ensuring the right person is making our outbound phone calls.
Top 5 Skills for Phone Sales:
Setting our own personal goals for what we are going to achieve is paramount to successful telephone sales. Writing goals down – yes, do this, it’s powerful – and always aiming for those goals is critical to success. It’s the way successful phone sales people keep on making the calls. Always have that goal in front of them. (This is very helpful for each DTC channel, not just phone, so if we aren’t already encouraging individual goals, let’s start now!)
Cultivate Good Listening Skills.
Many of us think we are good listeners, but studies prove that we really are not very good at listening. In phone sales, the ability to really be present with the customer, to hear and understand what they are saying, sounding, and meaning is absolutely essential. In the tasting room, staff members have all the visual and physical cues in the world about what is going on with the guest. Those clues are not available on the telephone. It requires an intensity and concentration on the customer above and beyond what is necessary in a live, face-to-face environment.
One way to observe and check for superb listening skills is to play “telephone,” like we used to do as a kid. Devise a case sales offer and pass it down the line from whisper to whisper and see how good the team is at actually listening and hearing meaning. Don’t reject people on this basis, but try to spot some stars who appear to be good at being “present” with the customer on the phone.
Part of our ‘listening’ skills also means that we’re not interrupting our customers or pre-empting what they are going to say… and listening for the emotion in our caller’s voice. If the customer sounds frustrated or upset, use empathy. If the customer sounds upbeat, try to hold onto that positivity by matching their tone. Last, but not least, we need to avoid stereotyping individuals by making assumptions about how we expect them to act and what we expect them to say. This will bias our listening.
Don’t Take “No” Personally.
Rejection of any kind is hard for all of us. Realistically however, out of 100 phone calls, we might only sell wine to six or seven people. This needs to be part of one’s skill set for phone sales, which is much different from tasting room experience. We need to be able to move on and not internalize the rejection, and find some other positive out of every conversation. Did we connect on an emotional level – make the person laugh? Feel a smile? Did we reinforce our brand promise or company values? Focus on the positive on every call.
Embrace Phone Communication.
Some people just aren’t comfortable speaking on the phone. The phone is not a snake to be avoided at all costs, but rather a tool to have wonderful, uplifting conversations with our customers. The great telephone sales person genuinely enjoys talking with folks over the phone. Just like we can’t teach “friendly” in the tasting room, so too does the phone sales representative need to have this in their DNA – we need to enjoy talking with customers over the phone.
Passion for our wines, our winery and for selling is an effective skill that goes a long way. Many people don’t feel comfortable selling – whether in person or one the phone – but to be successful with outbound phone sales, a sense of passion about what we do is essential. Someone once said that selling is simplypassion with a purpose and when we ask somebody else to participate in whatever it is that excites and interests us, we’re adding a purpose to our passion. Finding people who can channel their passion that can be heard in a phone conversation will give us a step up.
How to find the right people with all these skills in their DNA?
One way to find the right people is to put them into the deep end of the pool. If we set up a team to actually doing outbound calls and listening to their conversations (even just one side of the call), that can tell us the whole story. For example, give the team a list of say, 50 names, and have them make the outbound calls. We’ll be able to tell almost immediately who will succeed based on listening to their end of the phone call: Do they sound happy, animated, excited about the wine and offer? Or do they sound stilted, uncomfortable, with fear in their voice.
Then, be prepared to make changes. Not everyone is cut out for making outbound calls. We don’t want to force people into this task, even at the expense of possible sales – it’s a strategic error of management seeking profits and can cause more harm than good. Let’s set up our team to succeed by allowing them to do things they are both comfortable and successful doing.