This headline could have more simply read, "What everybody ought to know about selling over the phone", because that's what I want to talk about here. But if we want to get to the core of why selling over the phone is more difficult, that headline hits the nail on the head: On the phone, you lose the benefit of non-verbal communication.
What do I mean by non-verbal communication? I'm talking about all of the communication that takes place between people without words. It's about the way we look at someone when we speak, the tone of our voice, our body language. Are you up, positive, open, interested? Or are you down, soft, shy or self-conscious? This all contributes towards the impression that people form about us and what we are trying to express, both explicitly and implicitly.
The other week I came across I'm not very good at cold-calling. Help! on the SmartCompany website, from Trent Leyshan. In the column, Trent argues that when making a cold call, you must 'buy-in' rather than 'sell-in'. In other words, you must take a "genuine interest in [the customer] and their best interest." What especially caught my eye in the piece was this line early on, as he sets up his argument:
In fact, over 50% of communication is achieved via non-verbal cues. That means most cold-callers, even the really good ones, are still limited by these phone related challenges.
Trent is absolutely right. But I'd argue that the 50% number he cites is too conservative; I'd put it up to 80%!
So cold callers are burdened with the challenging task of making the best of the remaining 20% of communication faculties they still have at their disposal. And mind you, that 20% isn't just in the words, but also in the intonation of the words. All of a sudden, the actual words that you've carefully scripted and rehearsed account for maybe 7% to 10% of what you could be communicating in a normal, face-to-face interaction! The way you speak – the tone of your voice, your delivery, even grunts of acknowledgement as you listen to the customer – is just as valuable.
Needless to say, this leaves little margin for error when communicating (aka selling) over the phone. However done correctly, the sense of respect and sincerity that you'll project – that you have that "genuine interest in the customer and their best interest" – will hugely impact whether the customer will trust you, choose to engage with you and decide to make a purchase.
The next time you pick up the phone – and this is not just limited to new prospects, it can be anyone, even your mother! – think not only about what you're going to say but how you're going to say it. Because getting the latter right is just as important (if not more) as choosing the right words. Then you can start turning cold calls into hot knocks!
We announced in this space on Friday that Nuix had won the 2009 ATS Patrons' Award, and now we have a full recap of the awards presentation.
On a perfect spring evening, the ceremony at Government House last Wednesday was a fantastic event. In the keynote address, the Hon. Ian Macdonald, Minister for State Development, paid tribute to the finalists and the Australian Technology Showcase (ATS). Each of the members was featured in a brief video clip. And before and after the formal part of the evening, there was ample time to chat with all of the finalists and other members of the ATS.
Of course, the highlight of the evening was the presentation of the award, which went to Nuix. Developers of forensic data and email analysis software, they've experienced enormous growth since entering the market in 2006. Overseas sales now account for 83% of their business, and they boast a blue chip customer list that includes governments, regulators, law enforcement agencies and corporations in 20 countries. And with the development of new licensing models that build deeper relationships, the company is well positioned for continued success.
Eddie Sheehy, CEO of Nuix, was unfortunately unable to make the event, so the Director, Roy Grady, accepted the award on the company's behalf. During his brief remarks, Roy paid tribute to his friend and original founder and investor of the company, Jim McInerney, who worked in association with other colleagues for over five years to help develop the platform. Before it could be brought to the market in 2006, he unfortunately fell ill with cancer and passed away. However, he made sure that his family, still a shareholder today, continued to support the company and see it through to commercialisation. Mr. Sheehy was brought on board for this purpose and has helped to foster the company's entry into the local and international market. Mr. Grady's acceptance made for a moving moment and punctuated just how much the award meant not only to the business, but also personally.
Nuix, along with the other five finalists, has already received $2,500 worth of training solutions from The Fortune Group, and opted for product from Leadership In Action. And now as the winner of the Patrons' Award, they will receive an additional $5,000 of Fortune's training programs.
Congratulations again to Nuix, well deserved winner of the 2009 ATS Patrons' Award.
Have you ever seen a guy come into an office to fix a copy machine? He walks in, he fixes it, he leaves. Problem solved.
What's wrong with this picture?
Sure, he may have solved the problem, he may have done a great job. But do you know what he did? Do you know how he did it? Did you even catch his name?
So yes, immediate problem solved. But long-term relationship established? No. And that matters... more than you might realise.
A few years ago, the engineering team of a multinational computer company came to us for help. They had contracts with several banks to service their mainframes, but they were starting to lose new tenders to smaller competitors who came in with lower prices. Their technicians did outstanding work – they'd even come in for servicing at 2 in the morning, just to stay out of the way of office workers – and feedback on the work was generally positive. So why were they losing these new tenders?
After assessing their situation, we found this was due to the most basic of problems: there was no communication between the technicians and customer, and thus no relationship established. In fact, by going so far out of their way to service the mainframes at 2 in the morning, they were doing themselves a disservice by further hindering any chance for communication. It pushed them completely out of sight, completely out of mind.
When we suggested that we put the team through our Solution Based Selling training program, they expressed some doubts. Technicians don't make sales calls! They don't need to know how to respond to objections! But we explained that it wasn't about selling in the strictest sense of the word. It was about communicating. And to us, those two words are interchangeable. Communicating is selling; you can't sell without first communicating with customers.
Once armed with communication skills, the technicians started to follow up with customers after their service calls. They communicated what they had done, what it meant to the customer in layman's terms and what the value was to the company. They also asked the customer to rate their level of satisfaction with the work performed, and they adjusted accordingly.
This communication continued for several months. Customers began to see and appreciate the value of the work being performed. And even though the company's prices were generally higher than the competition's, they started to win new tenders again.
You probably don't fix copy machines or service mainframes for banks. But the next time you perform work for a customer, ask yourself: Do they understand and appreciate exactly what I'm doing for them? If you can't absolutely answer in the affirmative, then you need to start to communicate. And the selling will come naturally.
Nuix took the award during a great ceremony at Government House in Sydney on Wednesday evening.
Full post to follow next week, with details from the night, a few stories and photos. Until then, a big congratulations to Nuix. The future is looking bright.
In our excitement to share the news of this year's Patrons' Award finalists from the Australian Technology Showcase, we've jumped the gun on a formal introduction... so let's do that now.
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