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Increase morale and productivity with this information. Give us your feedback! Response to this information has been great! Some centers have stated a 10% increase in productivity by just making a copy of 'Sales Hints' available to their reps!

Sales Hints--for telemarketing pro's...or to become one.

No matter what you're selling over the phone: Yourself, a motor club, cable TV upgrades, insurance, and even simple surveys, you and your voice are the only the tools you have available. Use the information here to enhance your productivity and positively promote the clients you're working for. If you're new to telemarketing, or have been at it for some time, read this information. It will help you get more sales and/or get you to understand what you're doing right and why!

If you're a manager, supervisor, or trainer, do not use this information with a brand new class of TSRs. It doesn't work well until the new TSRs have had at least 2 full days of calling. Then it is much more effective. Just let the TSRs read this information between calls or at break. If you're struggling on a particular program, use this as a positive solution-oriented guide to develop better presentations with your TSRs.

Get your cake and eat it too! -- No's just get you started.

My wife knows I love cake and she can make a great cake from scratch. She also has a series of 'NO's' that I've learned to work with. If I ask her to make a cake with her special recipe from scratch, and she says, 'not now', I just get out the flour and sugar and promise to do the dishes and in an hour I've got cake. This is her first 'NO' and as you can see, it is easily overcome.

Her second 'NO' is a little more difficult. It is usually stated strongly but I can overcome it easily with something like, 'I'll do the dishes and get out all the ingredients and have the kitchen cleaned up as soon as you put it in the oven, OK?' This usually works.

Her third 'NO' is more difficult to overcome. It is usually very emphatic and followed by something like, 'I don't have time so DON'T BOTHER ME ABOUT IT!'. I usually just change the subject for a moment and go about getting out the necessary pots and pans and ingredients!

Her final 'NO' sometimes comes after she's yells at me and hits me. Sometimes she hits me first and then says 'NO'. Other times she screams this final 'NO' and then hits me. When this happens, I just wait until a little later.

THE MORAL? No's are really just buying signs and the START of the sales process. A 'NO' usually means a lack of information on how the product or service can benefit a customer. So from now on, treat no's as an opportunity--not rejection! After all, if my wife made a cake from scratch the first time I asked -- every time -- it wouldn't taste as good!

Rejection -- More on NO!

Rejection and telemarketing are partners. You have to get used to customers telling you No. Telemarketing follows the Law of Large Numbers. This means that the greater the volume, or the more calls you make, the higher the probability of success. When a client says that you should convert a certain number of customers into sales, they're talking about conversion. If the conversion is 5%, it means that out of 20 decision makers you call, you should get one sale. This means that over a large number of calls, say 1,000, you'll get 50 sales. It also means that 950 people will have told you 'NO'! This is just the nature of telemarketing.

Never take these 'NO's' personally.

You have to get through a certain number on 'NO's" before you can get a yes. In fact, every time you get a 'NO' you should be happy because you're that much closer to the next YES! Imagine how boring the job would be if everyone said yes on every single call!!! Where's the challenge? You'd be bored in no time! So just consider rejection as a part of a game--that you will win!

Transitions--You're the driver so put it to the floor and take off!!!!!

Transitions are phrases that do 3 things simultaneously:

  • 1. Transitions control the conversation.
  • 2. Transitions acknowledge that you heard the customer and you're now responding.
  • 3. Transitions buy the TSR time to find the RIGHT RESPONSE.
Transitions are just simple phrases that contain NO PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE and allow the TSR to get back into the script or to the proper responses without wasting time or having uncomfortable pauses.

Simple transitions are:

  • I hear what you're saying and... ( I like this 'cause its auditory)

  • I can appreciate that and... ( Not a favorite, but it works for some reps.)

  • I completely understand and.... ( Another unfavorite...)

  • I see what you mean and... ( I like this 'cause its visual)

  • Mr/s Blank, please let me reassure that.... (When said sincerely, this is great)

  • That's a good question, let me explain... (Great for mortgage programs)

Notice the italicized word, 'and' at the end of a lot of these phrases. The word, 'and' is smooth, unassertive, and not confrontational. Many TSRs have been TAUGHT to use the word, 'but' at the end of a transitional phrase.

I strongly disagree with this. When the word, 'but' is used at the end of a transitional phrase, I just visualize the customer bracing for the attack of fine print that's sure to follow. Consider this: The customer interrupts you and you then say, 'I can appreciate that Mr/s Blank, BUT I'M NOW GOING TO reBUT you!' When I'm really stuck and I can't find the right response (or the right computer button) I'll just roll some of these together!

Example: The customer interrupts me with a question that stumps me because I never heard it before. Instead of sounding like a complete idiot by stammering, pausing and stuttering like an oaf, I'll just say, 'Mr/s Blank, I'd like to mention that I hear what you're saying and I see what you mean and I'd like to reassure you that I...(have now found the right response)!

The absolute best transition is the 'paraphrase'. Just repeat/clarify what the customer said to you so you can buy a little time to get to the right response.

Customer: What's the cost? Paraphrase: A lot of people that I call ask what the cost is and let me explain.... (you've now found the right response...)

Customer: I only take telemarketing calls on Friday nights when cows are jumping over the moon. PARAPHRASE: That's great! because I'm calling you from a midwestern state with a lot of cows and I just noticed the full moon last night follow with a BENEFIT!

Little yeses add up to the big YES!

A good script should take away or answer objections BEFORE they're asked and when read properly, a few little yeses can occur. The verification of a customer's address is the perfect place to get a bunch of little yeses. It is the ultimate pyscology of sales. In fact, I know of one client who needed to get social security numbers from customers before pulling the customer's credit report. A .50 SPH was the norm when the script asked for the social security number before verifying the address. When the client moved the social security ask behind the name and address verification, the new normal SPH became .85! Consider this fictitious sale screen scenario where the rep knows the customer's: First name, middle initial, last name, street address, city, state, phone #, and zip code.

  • TSR: and your first name is JOE...........Customer:...yes
  • and your middle initial is K...............Customer:...yes
  • and your last name is SMITH............................yes
  • and your street address is 123 Oak St..................yes
  • and your city is OAKVILLE..............................yes
  • and your state is AZ...................................yes
  • and your zip is 01058..................................yes
  • and your phone number is 555-1234......................yes
  • and you want the $159.95 program, right?...............YES
  • See how much easier it is? (yes) GOTCHA!

Probing questions

Probing questions are usually used as in a last-ditch attempt to find a need to fulfill with the customer. A probing question should get your customer to think about your product or service. The worst probing question is the old standby (APRW--Any Particular Reason Why), 'Is there any particular reason why?'. This simply makes the customer say, 'NO', there isn't a reason. Personally, I hate it and I think it's totally inept. Instead, trying asking a question that gets the customer to think about your product or service.

For example, if you're selling premium channels for cable TV, you might try something like, 'This special offer won't last long, and let me ask, what types of movies do you enjoy the most?" Or, "who are your favorite actors and actresses?" Hopefully, with either question, the customer will give you some feedback that you can use -- or a need -- that you can now fulfill.

Choice Probes are even better. Ask a question (actually 2 questions in one) that have a very high probability of a positive response.

Example: Do you prefer action and adventure movies, dramas, comedies, or do you prefer children's programming? In the cable TV industry, we've just covered everything so the customer should give you feedback that you can act on. Choice Probes are very similar to choice questions. The only difference is that a choice probe tries to identify a need (and get the customer to think about the product) whereas a choice question just speeds up the script and requires very little thinking by the customer.

Choice questions.

Choice questions allow the customer to quickly pick an answer from a defined set of variables and it requires the customer to do very little thinking. If you fail to do this at appropriate times, it could cost you the sale because you took too long or required the customer to think too much. Example: The customer has decided to go ahead with 2 premium channels for a cable TV offer. It's now time to decide on the delivery date. An open-ended question like, 'when you would like us to set this up for you?', can result in disaster because the customer could say, SUNDAY MORNING. No one works then! Instead, give the customer an easily defined choice. Would you like us to set this up for you this Thursday or Friday? and then.... And would the morning, afternoon, or early evening best ? So what would you prefer, the easy way or the hard way?

Closes - If you don't ask for the sale, you won't get it.

There are three basic types of closing questions -- asking for the sale.

  1. Ask for the sale directly. May I have your order?
  2. Assumptively ask for the sale. I just need to verify your name and address and we can get you started, and I see that your address is....
  3. A choice close. Would you like both premium TV channels or just one?


Tie downs are another way of eliciting a 'little yes'. Tie downs usually end with, 'couldn't it?', 'wouldn't it?', 'shouldn't it?', 'isn't it?', etc. Examples:

  • It'd sure be nice if it'd stop raining, wouldn't it?
  • It'd be great to win the lottery, wouldn't it?
  • Taxes should be a lot lower, shouldn't they?

Basically, tie downs, are a statement that anyone in their right mind would agree to. I don't like them very much because they remind me of used car salesmen. A more powerful tie down would be a statement that gets the customer to agree with you without a used car approach. Example: A lot of people in your area (peer pressure) are getting started because they're happy with all the money they'll save and I'm sure you'd like to save money too, and..... As you talk with customers, think of what phrases you could use that are similar to a tie-down. It'd be great to visualize all your customers nodding their heads in agreement each time you call, wouldn't it? (GOTCHA!)

THE Presentation

Sales, or positive outcomes, come from good presentations. Special words and fancy phrases won't help nearly as much as a good, solid, conversational presentation that paints a picture of how useful the product or service is for the customer. Everyone has a fixed set of tools that they need to use to do a job. In telemarketing, one of the most important tools is you and your voice. At the end of each call check yourself against these points.

  1. How was your posture? Were sitting up straight? Sometimes a person can run out of breath when they're slouched over because their diaphragm is crunched. This can also help cause hisses, slurs, pauses (for breath) and incomplete or improper phonetics.
  2. Did you use your hands (to speak) as you were presenting the information--as you would with a normal conversation?
  3. Did you smile at the beginning of the call?
  4. Did your opening (first 2 sentences) sound bright and energetic? (ie: confident?)
  5. Did you hear a smile in your voice? 6. Did you sound like you were reading or did you sound natural and conversational?
  6. Did you get to all the responses quickly and without hesitation?
  7. Did you control the conversation by acknowledging a customer response with a transition?
  8. Did you end the call with a polite and cheerful courtesy close?
  9. On sales, how quickly did you get through the sales screen? Fast? (Hope so) .... Or did it sound agonizingly slow? Why lose a sale in the sales screen due to speed. An easy way to SOUND FAST is to simply repeat (back to the customer) anything you have to type, WHILE YOU TYPE IT.

The Courtesy Close

A full courtesy close is something like, 'thank you for time and have a nice/pleasant day. Good Bye.' The courtesy close is a very important part of many client's calls and has a number of functions. First, it controls when the call ends. It tells the customer that is still on the line that the call is now over. Control of the call at any point--even the very end, is very important. Second, the courtesy close gives all clients a sense of customer service and a positive ending for future calls. many clients demand that the courtesy close not only be read at the end of every call (even hangups!) -- but some clients even require that read be read cheerfully! Third, the courtesy close can be the only way that a TSR can win. Let's face it, TSR's are going to get yelled at, swore at and even hung up on -- not necessarily in that order--and when these 'negative events' happen, a cheerfully read courtesy close can be the TSR's solution to winning! I was once a TSR calling on a tough outbound project. There were lots of really rude people on the list and the reps were getting really discouraged. But one rep could sometimes be heard by everyone in the facility giving a super polite and cheerful courtesy close. At break I asked him why he did that at the end of some his calls (he didn't do it all the time). He said it was his way of winning. Really rude customers got the most cheerful courtesy close he could muster. I asked him that if he didn't get a sale, how did he really win? His response was, 'I have to read the courtesy close and I have to read it verbatim. If a customer decides to be really rude with me, just 'cause I'm doing my job, then I give 'em my super-duper cheerful courtesy close because that's the only way I can win. And what happens, is just as I start my next call, I'm all smiles because I knew I got in the last word on the last call -- and when I'm smiling at the start of a presentation, I get a lot more sales!' His name was Shane and he was always at double goal -- minimum.

Implement most of what you just read and you'll probably be at double goal too!

Dan Seliger, Stellar Performance Marketing, Inc.
PO Box 354
Cherokee, IA 51012
(712) 225-1288

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