I have recruited, trained and managed B2B telesales teams for over thirty years. During this time the role of the telesales person has changed dramatically. In the pre-internet day’s telesales people provided businesses with a valuable resource called ‘information’! Information about the business they worked for and the products and services they provided. In modern times ALL this information is readily available on our business websites.

The introductory letter has been replaced by an email and the hard copy ‘glossy brochure’ has been replaced by the PDF attachment. In the past a ‘buyers’ desk would have had a pile of glossy brochures a foot high, now they have an email inbox with 200+ unread items! In either case you’re lucky if your brochure ever gets read!

Modern telesales is therefore not to provide information but to help prospects decipher the confusion that comes with information overload. Brochures can pose questions to prospects but they can’t answer them in a way that is meaningful and rich to each unique client.Times have changed, B2B buying has changed but sadly telesales tactics are still often the same today as they were 30 years ago!

I’m a business owner as well as a sales person and I get bombarded with telesales calls on a daily basis. The quality of 95% of them is appalling and quite frankly an embarrassment to the profession of selling.

Here are TEN of the greatest myths of telesales:

  • You must sound happy & jolly
  • You must ask if I’m having a good day
  • You must be totally confident and ‘slick’
  • You must build rapport and cracking a joke is a great way
  • You must use my name as much as possible
  • You must NOT ask me if I have time to talk
  • You must only ask open questions
  • You must only speak to the decision maker
  • You must confirm an exact day and time for the follow up call
  • You must tell me that your email address and contact phone number will be at the bottom of your email

The solution for modern telesales success is in two areas?

  • Don’t sound like a typical telesales person
  • Don’t act like a typical telesales person

The old adage of “Smile & Dial” is now history as even THE most junior of staff members has the absolute authority from their bosses to block 100% of sales calls. Therefore the moment you even vaguely SOUND like a sales person you are history!

I can spot a sales call within 5 seconds just from the tone of voice used, so if you want to get off to a good start slow down your pace, lower the pitch of your voice and sound important & professional (like an accountant or a solicitor might).

The old myth of not asking the other party if they have time to talk, is on the basis that you are giving them an easy excuse to get you off the phone. Sales managers will tell you “If they were busy why did they answer their phone?” Well Mr. Sales Manager here’s the answer. I’m a businessman and unless I’m with an external client I will always answer my phone EVEN if I am busy, why? The call might be from a client or a prospect! If I discover it isn’t I may still be interested BUT not right now! If you insist on pushing me I may not be interested at all.

I teach communication skills (listening and questioning being key ingredients) and the object of communication is ‘mutual understanding’. How can you get mutual understanding without seeking clarification? You can’t and the way to get absolute clarification is by using a good mix of open and closed questions.

If you can’t get through to the decision maker, don’t waste the call but instead gather information from the person you can talk with. This may be useful when you do get to speak with the DM at a later date.

So many telesales people wrongly insist on trying to get the prospect to commit to a specific date and time for a follow up call. It’s not professional to do this, its arrogant and pushy. Depending on what you are selling, most telesales people are dealing with people who have far more authority than they do!

Finally – Prospects are NOT stupid and therefore do not need to be told the bleeding obvious! I have NEVER had an email from a sales person that didn’t have their contact details at the bottom!

That was just a brief insight into the challenges of professional B2B telesales, if you recognise some/all the faults above in your team and would like an initial free and confidential discussion then call me on 07557 919039.

Thank you for reading.

Stuart Allen FCMI FInstSMM