How to Not Sound Like a Telemarketer

Updated: November 15, 2010

The way you do that is by learning how to sound like you're not selling anything, and you do that by learning how to disarm prospects, sound natural yet professional, and how to be friendly without being phony. Use these 5 techniques to not only sound natural on the phone, but to also close more business:

Always use the prospect's first name. I know that there are two schools of thought on this, one being that you should show respect for someone you don't know and so use either Mr. or Mrs., but I don't agree. I think you can show respect for someone by being courteous and professional, and I think you're going to make a lot more progress if you use a person's first name. Here are the two reasons to do so:

  • First, by using a person's first name you aren't immediately signaling that you're a sales person! How do you feel when someone you don't know calls you and addresses you by "Mr." or "Mrs."? Also, when you use a person's first name, you are starting the call on equal footing, without giving them all the power.
  • Second, everyone likes the sound of their own name. In fact, psychologists have found that everyone's favorite word is their first name! By starting with that you are immediately making a connection, and a personal one at that.

Be polite. You'd be surprised by how many sales reps still try to trick or get around gatekeepers and assistants, and how many are even rude in doing so. Always, always use please and thank you when speaking with anyone over the phone (or in person for that matter).

Words like "please" and "thank you" go a long way when trying to make a connection with a prospect, and they work especially well when you're trying to get through to a prospect also. Examine your current scripts now and do all you can to insert the proper courtesies wherever you can.

Be brief. Most reps go into pitch mode the moment they reach their prospect, and it's no surprise they can't wait to get the rep off the phone. I review scripts all the time that essentially read the company's brochure to the prospect the moment they reach them.

You can turn that around and sound so much better by briefly delivering your presentation and checking in with your prospect. Try things like:

  • Briefly _________, the reason I'm calling is that we've been working with many companies like yours, and I just wanted to see if we could help you as well. Can I ask you just a couple of questions to see if we'd be a fit for you?
  • __________, you probably get a lot of calls like these, so I'll be brief. I'll just ask you a couple of quick questions and if I think we can save you between 15 to 20% I'll let you know and, if not, we'll part friends, is that OK?

Get the idea?

Make a connection. This is one of the easiest of all and it's a great way to get your prospect talking. All you do is find something that you know is affecting your other clients (like new laws in their industry), and ask how it's affecting your new prospect as well. Try:

  • "You know ________ a lot of my clients have told me of the changes they are having to make because of (the new law/change in regulation, etc.), how is that affecting you?"
  • "__________ what are you planning to feature at the September trade show?"

By addressing something that they are dealing with now, you can instantly make a connection and get valuable information. Warning: you have to fit this in after you've established rapport, and you have to address something that is relevant to them.

Listen more. This may not sound like a way to sound natural on the phone, but believe me, it's probably the most important of all. Because most sales reps are so busy talking at their prospect, they usually lose them at the beginning. In most cases, the prospect has turned off and are just waiting for an appropriate pause to get rid of the rep.

By listening you actually create space for your prospect to speak (and to think), and because of that you are allowing the conversation to flow. When you give the prospect a chance to get their thoughts and feedback out, they feel comfortable with you, and that is the best way for the conversation to unfold naturally. Hit your mute button after you ask a question and count three 1000's if you're having trouble remaining quiet.

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