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telesales ebook

Telesales
Dragos V. Iliescu

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Dragoş V. Iliescu

Telesales

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Telesales
© 2012 Dragoş V. Iliescu & bookboon.com
ISBN 978-87-403-0182-3

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Telesales

Contents

Contents
Preface

6



About the Author

7

1

Defining Telesales

8

2The Specifics of Selling Over the Telephone

10

2.1

Active Listening

10

2.2

Delivering a Clear Message

13


3

Preparing for the Telesales Call

3.1

Knowing the Product or Service

3.2

Knowing the Purpose of Each Call

3.3

Call Scripts

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360°
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Telesales

Contents

4

The Stages of Telesales Calls

23

4.1

Getting Past the Gatekeepers

23

4.2

Catching the Prospect’s Interest

25

4.3Investigation

27

4.4

Making the Sales Presentation

29

4.5

Overcoming Objections

31

4.6Closing

34

Bibliography

36

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Telesales

Preface

Preface
The telephone is the most widely used tool in sales interactions. This is due to the fact that it helps save
time and money by extending geographic coverage, while still allowing a complete one-to-one interaction
with prospects.
This book provides a structured approach to telesales, from preparation to closing the sale. It describes
each step, and provides information regarding the transition from one step to the next.
In chapter 1, telesales is defined and explained. Chapter 2 presents the specifics of selling over the
telephone, as opposed to face to face selling. Chapter 3 addresses the preparation phase, offering essential
information regarding the rules of phone call efficiency, while chapters 4 deals with the steps of the actual
sales call, explaining how to reach decision makers, catch the client’s interest, investigate needs, make a
successful sales presentation over the phone, overcome objections and close the sale.
The information contained in this book is meant to help sales professionals achieve better results over
the telephone, whether they use this channel exclusively for sales, or just as a part of a more complex
selling strategy.

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Telesales

About the Author

About the Author

Dragoş V. Iliescu is a training and development professional, with vast experience in call center activities.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and he is a National Council for Adult Vocational
Training of Romania certified trainer.
Dragoş has designed and delivered training programs on topics such as “Communication”, “Customer
Service”, “Telesales”, “Time Management”, “Train the Trainer” or “Coaching”.
Over the years, he has trained hundreds of telesales professionals and has helped implement telesales
campaigns for companies acting in various fields.
Dragoş is currently the Training and Development Manager of Valoris Center, a fast developing
Romanian-based company with proven experience in the contact center industry. Valoris Center’s
mission is to provide excellence in customer relations and become a reliable partner for its client’s
business development.
You can find out more about Valoris Center and the services they provide on their website:
www.valoris.ro

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Telesales

Defining Telesales

1 Defining Telesales
Despite recent technological developments in telecommunications, the telephone remains the most
widely used tool in sales interactions. This is mainly due to the following reasons:
• it helps salespersons save the time spent in face-to-face encounters;
• it helps save money, by reducing travelling costs;
• it extends the geographic reach, allowing salespersons to interact with prospective customers
in other parts of their country or even of the world;
• it creates direct communication and interaction, unlike e-mails or chat, which are more
impersonal.
The telephone has proven itself a useful tool, both for establishing the initial interest of prospective
customers as part of a more complex sales process, and for closing sales transactions.
The activity of engaging prospective customers, or prospects, over the telephone, as part of the sales
process ending with the transfer of property for money or credit, is known under various names, such
as telemarketing, telephone sales or telesales. For reasons of clarity, this book will only use the term
“telesales” whenever referring to this type of activity.
Telesales can be defined as follows:
Telesales is a direct marketing method by which a salesperson uses the
telephone as a channel for making the initial approach, in the attempt
to sell products or services to prospective customers.
By this definition, telesales is a proactive approach for contacting prospects in an outbound call.
Depending on the objective of the call, we can distinguish three different categories.
A lead qualification call is meant to find out more information about the customer, in order to
determine if or how the product or service you are promoting can satisfy their needs. Qualified leads
help salespersons save time, by making the sales call only to people meeting certain eligibility criteria
for becoming a buyer of the respective product or service.

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Telesales

Defining Telesales

A lead generation call is made to determine the prospect’s degree of interest and to set a face-to-face
meeting with a sales consultant. High-value products or services (such as houses, cars or industrial
supplies), aren’t sold exclusively over the telephone. However, the telephone helps establish the first
contact, and arouse interest for the specific product. Lead generation calls have the objective of generating
interest which can be turned into a sale in a face-to-face meeting.
Sales calls have the objective of persuading a person to agree to buy a product or service. They are
effective when promoting lower value products or services, which prospects are more likely to agree to
buy directly over the telephone. The aim of a sales call is to have the customer’s approval in the course
of one call.
Regardless of the call category, all telesales calls share the following common characteristics:
• the interaction is initiated by the salesperson, not by the customer;
• the objective of the call is decided by the salesperson, prior to making the call;
• the time of the call is decided by the salesperson;
• the costs of the call are supported by the salesperson or the salesperson’s employer.

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Telesales

The Specifics of Selling Over the Telephone

2The Specifics of Selling Over the
Telephone
Selling over the telephone relies heavily on three essential skills: listening, delivering a clear message
and controlling the tone of voice.

2.1

Active Listening

Listening is not an involuntary act, but a skill that requires effort on behalf of the person performing it.
In order to differentiate listening from hearing, and to emphasize the active involvement of the person
receiving the message, we will appeal to a communication technique called active listening.
Being able to actively listen is a crucial ability for telesales representatives, as it is used to let the other
person know that you understand what he is saying, to show that you are interested and that you
understand his feelings towards the issue at hand.
Active listening is a communication technique, in which the person
listening actively displays interest in drawing the speaker’s intended
meaning by using verbal and non-verbal signals.
In conclusion, active listening proves that you care for what the other person has to say. It also helps you
avoid making assumptions and properly understand the prospect’s requests.
2.1.1

The HEAR Model of Active Listening

HEAR is an acronym that stands for hear, empathize, analyze and respond. This model provides a structure
that can be followed by checking each of its elements, once you have applied them, and that can ensure
you of the fact that you are actively listening to the person on the other end of the line.
The HEAR model is structured as follows.
Hear what is being said
Hearing is a natural function of a healthy human body.
• Listen carefully to the words and the feelings behind them, which surface through the tone
of voice.
• Avoid prejudice. Do not let your own feelings, attitudes or opinions keep you from listening.
• Do not interrupt; it is important that you hear all that the other person has to say out before
reacting.
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Telesales

The Specifics of Selling Over the Telephone

Empathize with the person speaking
The word “empathy” comes from the combination of the Ancient Greek words “em”, which means “in”
and “pathos”, meaning “feeling”. So, empathy literally means “being inside the other person’s feelings”,
or rather understanding what the other person feels.
Psychologist Heinz Kohut offers the following definition for empathy:
Empathy is the capacity to think and feel oneself into the inner life of
another person.
Empathy is achieved by the following actions.
• Show interest in the other person’s perspective, even if it differs from your own.
• Use an adequate tone of voice.
• Aim for complete understanding by paraphrasing the facts and the position of the speaker.
Analyze what is being said
People can listen at a rate that is about three times greater than the rate at which they can speak. This
means that, while the other person is speaking, there is some time left for analyzing what is being said.
You can put this amount of time to good use, if you review and summarize the words and their meaning.

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Telesales

The Specifics of Selling Over the Telephone

Respond to what has been said
• Through your answer, prove that you have listened and understood what you had been told.
• Formulate an answer that the interlocutor can understand.
2.1.2

Active Listening Techniques

You can give proof of active listening over the telephone by using one or more of the following techniques.
Reformulating
This technique refers to using other words than those used by your interlocutor, that add up to the same
meaning. Reformulating concentrates exclusively on facts. It serves the purpose of confirming that the
message sent was understood correctly, while proving to the person speaking that you are paying attention.
“If I understand correctly, ______.”
“Is it correct to say that ______?”
“I understand that ______.”
Specification
Specification is an active listening technique used to give the person on the other end of the line the
opportunity to clarify his statements. It is an effective way to help the interlocutor verbalize emotions
and feelings.
“Help me better understand what you think is inappropriate.”
“What makes you say that ______?”
“Please tell me why you feel that ______?”
Encouraging
You can use encouraging as an active listening technique, to stimulate the person on the other end of
the line to continue to present his point of view and provide you with more information. In order to
achieve this, you should refrain from formulating agreement or disagreement; otherwise, you won’t be
able to investigate further, as your interlocutor will not disclose his thoughts objectively.
“Please, go on.”

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Telesales

The Specifics of Selling Over the Telephone

“Please tell me more.”
“I’d like to hear more.”
2.1.3

Obstacles in Active Listening

In order to listen actively, you must take into account the following obstacles and overcome them.
• Interference from the environment; other conversations or sources of noise in the
background might distract you from paying attention to what the prospects have to say.
• Individual attention span; attention spans differ greatly from one person to another, and if
the conversation is not very engaging, the listener’s mind might start to wander.
• The telephone is an apparatus transmitting signals; part of the clarity of the message is lost
in the course of the conversation.

2.2

Delivering a Clear Message

Studies have shown that the meaning of any message is derived from three aspects of communication:
body language (what we do), words (what we say), and tone of voice (how we say it). In face-to-face
communication, body language, also called non-verbal communication, accounts for 55 percent of all
meaning, the words for 7 percent and the tone of voice for 38 percent.

Figure 1. Distribution of meaning in face-to-face communication

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Telesales

The Specifics of Selling Over the Telephone

There is no visual contact on the telephone; hence body language cannot be perceived directly. Body
language is absorbed into the tone of voice, as each gesture affects the way sounds come out of our mouths.
For example, it is easy to perceive whenever somebody is running, laying back, smiling or frowning, even
if there is no visual contact, because all these actions affect the person’s posture and posture affects the
tone of voice. Therefore, the percentage of how meaning is resultant over the telephone is divided over
the tone of voice, which account for around 75 percent, and words, which account for the remaining
25 percent.

Figure 2. Distribution of meaning in telephone communication



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Telesales

The Specifics of Selling Over the Telephone

Understanding the overwhelming importance of the tone of voice during a phone call is the first step
towards getting results in telesales.
2.2.1

Using Words

The language you use over the telephone must have at least two characteristics in order to be effective:
clarity and accuracy.
Clarity
The content of the message must be structured in such a manner that it is easy to follow. Sentences
should be short and the language simple.
Accuracy
The content you present must be coherent and provide sufficient information for exploiting the subject
in its entirety.
2.2.2

Tone of Voice

The tone of voice is the most important part of communication over the telephone. It is made of inflection,
pitch, pace and volume.
Inflection emphasizes certain words or syllables, with the purpose of amplifying certain aspects of
the message. It can also be used to express agreement or disagreement towards a certain situation or
affirmation or to express a certain disposition. Inflection can change the meaning of words, as it has
more effect on the listener than what is being said. For example, a simple affirmation such as “you are
an intelligent person” can have different meanings, depending on how it is said; it can be perceived
literally or as an irony. Control over inflection helps the person speaking transmit an effective message.
Pitch is a property of sound that places it on a frequency-related scale. It is relative and it depends on
a reference tone, corresponding to a known frequency. If the frequency increases, so does the pitch.
In telephone conversations, the reference tone is also relative and it varies according to each person’s
individual perception and reference. Generally speaking, sounds become irritating when pitch is too
high and unperceivable when the pitch is too low. Pitch should be balanced and avoid either high or
low extremes, in order for the message to get through without interference.
Pace is the number of words spoken over a given period. Whenever you are saying that a person is talking
too fast or too slow, you are referring to the person’s pace. Experts recommend the use of mirroring to
match the pace of the person we are talking to. People with a fast pace get bored if we talk slowly, while
persons with a slow pace don’t usually understand someone who is talking too fast.

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Telesales

The Specifics of Selling Over the Telephone

The last relevant element in regard to the tone of voice is loudness. Loudness is a quality of sound
which is measured is in correlation with the sound pressure level, and can be measured in decibels. The
bigger the number of decibels is, the louder the volume. Since perception of loudness is subjective, it
is hard to determine which volume is adequate for a certain interlocutor. We can only approximate, by
the way the other person is talking how loud we should talk to make ourselves heard, but not to disturb
the other person.
You can use the table below for measuring and improving the way you use your tone of voice, with its
most relevant elements.
Tone of voice
Loudness

Silent

-3

-2

-1

0

1

2

3

Loud

Pace

Slow

-3

-2

-1

0

1

2

3

Fast

Pitch

Low

-3

-2

-1

0

1

2

3

High

Inflections

Monotone

-3

-2

-1

0

1

2

3

Dramatic

Table 1. Measuring scale for the tone of voice

The scale is a good tool to help you avoid extremes in all of the elements of the tone of voice and keep
a balance.

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Preparing for the Telesales Call

3 Preparing for the Telesales Call
Even if it is not a part of the actual sales call, a vital part of telesales is preparation. When telesales
representatives are well prepared, their results are predictable, they gain self-confidence and project that
confidence onto their prospects.
The following steps are to be considered whenever preparing for a sales call: knowing the product or
service, knowing the purpose of each call and writing or adapting the call script.

3.1

Knowing the Product or Service

In order to know the product or service you are promoting, you must learn the features it has and
advantages it can offer to the person buying it.
The features of a product or service are made of the descriptive and specific information regarding its
structure. They indicate exact specifications, such as color, size or weight. Knowing the product’s features
is a vital part of fulfilling the prospect’s implicit expectation to receive correct and sufficient information.
The amount of information you have about a product is directly proportional with your capacity to offer
consistent answers and spontaneous solutions to prospects, when you identify their needs.
Advantages are derived from features, by demonstrating how the feature can be used to bring more value
to the prospect. Each feature can bring one or more advantages. Below is an example of some features
of a mobile phone and their advantages.
Feature

Advantage

Autofocus camera

It takes clear pictures for close-ups

97 g weight

It is easy to carry it around

Black

It can match any

1500 mAh Li-Ion battery

It can be used for days without recharging

3.7 inch screen

It can display any type of media

Table 2. Features and advantages of a mobile phone

Unlike features, which are usually technical in nature, advantages describe how a product can be used
or how it can become useful.
Knowing a product’s advantages is essential for identifying the benefits it can bring for a potential
customer.

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Telesales

Preparing for the Telesales Call

A benefit is an advantage that is in accordance with an individual need of the
prospective customer.
Benefits show you how products or services answer the explicit needs of the prospect. They are the most
important part of the sales process, as they have the biggest impact.
The whole process of knowing the product or service can be summed up as follows:
Products have features which can be transformed into advantages. When correlated
to a prospect’s needs, some of the advantages turn into benefits that bring direct
value to the prospect.

3.2

Knowing the Purpose of Each Call

The first step towards accomplishing your objectives is to clearly define them. The real objective of
any telesales call is to take the discussion to a positive resolution. The nature of this resolution varies
depending on what you want to achieve during that call. In a sales call, you strive to get the customer’s
agreement for making the purchase. A lead generation call has the objective of setting up a meeting with
a sales representative. A lead qualification call has the objective of finding out things about the customer
that are relevant to the sales processes.
The purposes of calls may vary, but the common point of every type of telesales campaign is that the
salesperson has to persuade somebody of something.

3.3

Call Scripts

Most telesales campaigns rely on call scripts for providing information and guidelines to the structure of
calls. Scripts indicate the main stages of a call and help build a scenario that can direct the conversation
towards a positive outcome.
Unlike movie scripts, call scripts only have lines for one character, the telesales representative. The
prospect’s reaction can only be vaguely anticipated, but never to the extent of providing lines for him
as well. That means that scripts are never guaranteed to develop a pre-determined and redundant
conversation. Rather, they provide an ideal and optimistic scenario.
The structure of telesales scripts varies, depending on the call category.

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Telesales

3.3.1

Preparing for the Telesales Call

The Sales Call Script

Sales call scripts are built from persuasive phrases and structured as a development towards convincing
a prospect to become a customer. They abound of information regarding the features and advantages
of the product or service you are trying to sell. As a general rule, there usually is no room for rejection
in the sales call script. It is written on the presumption that the prospect will say “yes” and it’s only a
matter of time and technique to persuade him. Sales call scripts help the salesperson set a positive state
of mind, by providing information on how to succeed.
They are usually structured as follows.
• Introduction
• Catching the client’s interest
• Detailed presentation of the offer
• Handling objections
• Closing

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Telesales

3.3.2

Preparing for the Telesales Call

The Lead Generation Call Script

Lead generation call scripts are in many ways similar to sales call scripts. The main difference is that
they usually hold less information regarding the features of the products or services being promoted
and their overall tone is less adamant, since the objective is not to persuade the prospect to agree to a
purchase, but to persuade him to agree to a face to face meeting in which the benefits will be identified.
Lead generation calls are a part of a larger sales process and their aim is to generate the initial interest
and to provide a bridge to the next step, which takes place in a face-to-face encounter.
• Introduction
• Catching the client’s interest
• Summary presentation of the offer
• Handling objections
• Agreeing on the time of the meeting
• Closing
3.3.3

The Lead Qualification Call Script

The lead qualification call aims at collecting information about the customer, without actually persuading
him to take any action. The only thing prospects should be persuaded to do in this type of call is to
take the time to provide the caller the information he solicits. The lead qualification call script has the
simplest structure.
• Introduction
• Presentation of the purpose of the call
• Questionnaire
• Closing
3.3.4

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Call Script

The call script offers solutions and predefined sentences that can help you go through the stages of a call.
It can also be an important source of information regarding the features and advantages of a product.
Using a call script has both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages
• It provides information on the promoted product or service.
• It follows a structure that is based on best-practice rules.
• It helps the salesperson using it be fluent and coherent.

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Telesales

Preparing for the Telesales Call

Disadvantages
• It constraints creativity and improvisation.
• It might give the person on the other line the impression that they’re not being talked to, but
read to.
• It distracts attention from what the customer is actually saying.
Many sales professionals advise against using scripts. That is perfectly normal and understandable. They
are, after all, professionals. If you are one too, then a script will only get in your way, as you already have
the skills and expertise you need to handle a sales call based only on knowing the features of a product.
Scripts are useful when you are new in telesales or when you start selling something new. Each telesales
representative should adapt the script to his or her own style and according to each conversation.
Rehearsing the script can be a good idea, as it helps build confidence and get a good knowledge of
situations that might appear.

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Telesales

Preparing for the Telesales Call

If we compare selling over the telephone to driving a car, then the script is the GPS. It gives you a general
direction and tells you when you should turn left or right in order to reach the final destination. A GPS
is very useful, especially if you have never been to that location before. However, you have to keep your
eye on the road at all times. In our case, the “road” is the conversation you have with your prospect, who
has individual needs that you cannot predict beforehand. Just like you cannot drive a car just by looking
at the GPS and never looking at the road ahead, you cannot make a telesales call just by reading a script.
If you drive around there for a while, then you will start knowing the roads and shortcuts and you will
no longer need the GPS; but it can prove very useful in the beginning of your journey.

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Telesales

The Stages of Telesales Calls

4 The Stages of Telesales Calls
Selling over the telephone is a process. The telesales approach is structured in a succession of well-defined
stages; the objective of each stage is to earn an intermediary approval from the prospect that ensures
progress to the next stage.
Some salespersons confuse progress with postponement. Postponement happens when the sale continues,
but the prospect has not decided on any specific action that can bring a progress. For example, if he
asks you to call him back because he is not available for discussion at that moment, you will call back
and pick up at the same stage.
Progress occurs when the prospect makes a decision that takes the process to the next stage. If the customer
asks you to call another person, at a higher level of decision, then the sales process has made progress.

4.1

Getting Past the Gatekeepers

In business-to-business sales, you won’t always have direct access to the person who can make the decision
of acquisition. Not having a direct telephone number means that you have to reach that person with the
help of other persons inside that organization. The persons who can help you reach the decision makers
are called gatekeepers.
They are usually secretaries, personal assistants or front desk representatives. Regardless of their job title,
all these persons have the same task of filtering calls, by deciding which calls get through to members
of management. So, it is their job to keep you from reaching the decision maker. Your first challenge is
to get past them.
Below you can find three of the most effective techniques for getting past gatekeepers.
4.1.1

The Two-Step Approach

First of all, find out the gatekeeper’s name and use it. This establishes a personal connection which
reduces the formality of a rigid business interaction.

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Telesales

The Stages of Telesales Calls

Secondly, ask for their help. The person screening the calls is, after all, a decision maker as well: she
decides who passes through to the person who can make the acquisition. That’s why you must have the
same attitude towards her that you would have towards the decision maker. Asking her for help will
make her feel important, and this is an essential part to getting her to like you. Most people only treat
her like an obstacle and want to get through as quickly as possible to a person holding a management
position. She is seldom given any attention or respect. That is why a person giving her due respect will
be appreciated.
4.1.2

The Deviated Path

Any secretary, personal assistant or front desk officer has been trained to filter calls and to let only
important ones get through to decision makers. It is an important part of their job to keep telesales
calls away from busy managers. However, nobody has trained them to keep calls out from people that
usually interact directly with customers or suppliers, such as accountants, PR officers or any other nonmanagement personnel. So, instead of asking to talk directly to the decision-maker, ask to talk to anybody
working in a department that usually interacts with customers or suppliers. Once you get through to
a person in one of these departments, getting to the decision maker is much easier, as the person you
have reached has not been instructed to filter calls.

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Telesales

4.1.3

The Stages of Telesales Calls

The Direct Approach

Another approach that can be successful in getting past gatekeepers is the direct approach. You just say
who we want to talk to, using an severe tone of voice. For example:
“Hello, I’m ______________ from ___________ . Pass me through to the General Manager, please.”
This is an intimidating approach. You pretend to be a very important person that has no time to waste.
It is very risky, as chances are it might spark animosity in the gatekeeper. It works well if you feel that
the person is easily intimidated, new on the job or if you have tried other approaches unsuccessfully
and you have nothing left to lose.
4.1.4

Summary of the Stage

Objective:
Reaching the decision maker (this stage does not exist if you already know who the decision maker is
and have a phone number where you can reach him).
Actions:
Prepare the call; know who the person you want to reach is, get mentally prepared for rejection and
know what you have to do in order to avoid rejection.

4.2

Catching the Prospect’s Interest

4.2.1

The Opening

Your first contact with your prospect is of tremendous importance, as it leaves the customer with a first
impression of you. As you might know, you never get a second chance to leave a good first impression.
First impressions are important because, in the first few seconds of a conversation, people decide whether
they rather like or they dislike the person they are talking to. Since people usually do business with
people they like, it is important to be liked by your prospect in order to increase your chances to have
his commitment at the end of the call.
At the beginning of a call, you have to introduce yourself and the company on behalf of which you are
calling. Below you can find a few examples of opening sentences.
“Good morning, my name is _____________ and I am calling you on behalf of _____________.”
“Good afternoon, I’m ___________ from ___________.”
“Hello, this is ____________ and I am calling you from _______________.”
The first sentence should be said in an enthusiastic and friendly tone of voice.
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