The Best Advice for an Inside Sales Rep by Don Markland
According to the US Census data, from 2002 to 2007 the number of firms engaged in some sort of call center activities increased 5.23% from 3344 to 3519 and sales from $11 billion to over $14 billion. Though many business leaders and scholars suggest that call centers and telemarketing is dying, the data would suggest otherwise. Further, inside sales is growing 300 percent faster than outside sales, with over 42,000 non-retail inside sales jobs being created every year (2013). Last, Lawrence and Hubbard (2008) suggest that inside sales continues to be one of the best ways salespeople can effectively build rapport with customers when technology and business intelligence tools are used correctly. The future of sales growth continues to be in call centers and inside sales.
I have been in the call center industry for over 13 years and have learned quite a bit. If I were to give one piece of advice to sales reps in either a traditional call center or inside sales environment, it would be this: be yourself. Here’s a little secret: people hate salespeople; they hate being sold anything. This is true at the car dealership or over the phone. People hate to be sold. So stop selling them! People hate salespeople but the love real people. The trick is to be yourself over the phone. Have natural conversation. Use a natural tone. Don’t over emphasize words too much or sound extra enthusiastic. Be yourself. Be a natural human being.
Constantin Stanislavski, the great acting teacher, said, “The art of acting is being yourself in front of strangers.” I think Stanslavski was on to something. Sales is no different. The art of selling is being yourself in front of prospects. I have listened to countless top performers over the years. I have heard the best salespeople that could literally sell anything. They all have different techniques and strategies. Some ask more questions. Some are more aggressive. Some are even sarcastic and snarky. The one thing they all have in common is that they are natural and casual over the phone. All of them sound like they are having a real conversation over the phone; they are connecting person-to-person. All sales is person-to-person contact. Be a real person over the phone.
Sales can be tough. When we are missing quotas and targets, we begin to feel desperate; we will do anything for that next sale. Often times, it is when we feel desperate that we forget the fundamentals of success. We begin to try extra hard. We push for the close. And many times we push the sale away. When you are under pressure and you feel your sales quota pushing down on you like an anvil, focus on being yourself over the phone. Don’t let that go. Flowers grow through constant nourishment and attention. They need natural water and natural sunlight every day. When we feel pressure, should we stop nourishment because we desperately want to produce a flower? Should we stop what works and focus on something else like overloading the flower with plant food? Or should we stick with what works: natural water and natural sunlight. It might take time, but it will always work. Being yourself is the sunlight and water of sales. It is natural and powerful.
Next time you are coaching a rep, or jumping on the phones yourself, try to remember you are talking to another real person over the phone. If I sell them, they will hate me. If I am a person to them, they will respect me. Remember again, that all sales is person-to-person contact. You must be a real person over the phone if you want to succeed.
(2013). Telecommunications; InsideSales.com research: Inside sales growing 300% faster than traditional field sales. Journal of Engineering, , 776. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1450987645?accountid=458
Lawrence S, Hubbard AW. (2008). Cross-selling and upselling in the contact center: tranforming your contact center into a profit center. Aberdeen Group, May