Sales teams - do you have a junk call problem?

7th of June 2016
Sales teams - do you have a junk call problem?

Is your sales team spending hours on the phone, but not getting results? You know your team isn’t slacking, but they’re not generating sales and worse, they’re losing customers? Your sales team may have a junk call problem, says Paul Black of sales-i.

Is your sales team spending hours on the phone, but not getting results? You know your team isn’t slacking, but they’re not generating sales and worse, they’re losing customers?

Sales calls are important – 92 per cent of all customer interactions happen over the phone. But 85 per cent of customers report feeling dissatisfied and frustrated after receiving such a call. That’s because most sales pros have a junk call addiction.

Not dissimilar to a junk food addiction, junk calling (just like eating too many pizzas or burgers) is damaging. Especially if the behaviour is sustained over a long period of time. While too much junk food will probably give you high cholesterol or increased blood pressure (probably both), junk calling poses a real threat to the health of your customer relationships.

Defining a junk call

Junk calls are characterised by pointless small talk and poorly informed attempts to sell. These types of calls generally do nothing much except waste your customer’s time.

For example, calling a store to try and sell buckets, mops, or cleaning supplies without knowing where they currently source these from - or if the store is an existing customer, when last they bought from you - will probably end in tears (or no sale at least). Similarly, if your sales team calls a customer to try and sell them products without knowing who their target market is, then it’s just guesswork. It’s just junk.

Too many sales professionals make calls on a whim and rely on a scattergun approach to selling rather than treating prospects as individuals. If one cleaning supplies store liked your product another will too, right? Wrong. No two prospects (even if they operate within the same industry) are the same and they rarely need the same products at the same time.

If your sales team makes a call without knowing who it is they are targeting and why, they are much less likely to be successful. Research has shown that only two per cent of cold calls result in a sale. This means that if your sales team is prone to junk calling, 98 per cent of the time they may as well just stay at home.

Fifty per cent of sales pros waste time on unproductive prospecting. If your team doesn’t take customer information into account before making a call, they are likely spending time phoning people who would never consider buying from them.

This is inefficient and a total waste of time. Remember, the more efficient your team is, the more sales they will make.

Quality calls

A healthy (and successful) sales call (the sales equivalent of a nutritious salad or veggie dish) has three main characteristics.

It’s purposeful. Before picking up the phone your sales team needs to know why they’re calling that specific customer, at that exact time, with that particular product. Guessing is not good enough – they have to know and be able to justify why they are making every single call.

Good quality sales calls are all about the detail. Calls to generally find out if a company might be in the market ‘for some new products’ never really work, and the customer will probably put the phone down before your sales pro even gets around to explaining who the hell they are.

To make sure no junk calls slip through, every sales call has to have a clear purpose backed up by research. Sales strategist Jill Konrath says that top sellers use LinkedIn for six hours per week (and they’re not updating their own profiles!).

It’s timely. Before making a call your sales team should know whether the customer actually needs the product they are trying to sell. And if they’re not sure, they should find out before calling.

To determine whether a customer might need your product it is useful to take a look at when the customer usually purchases a specific item. Some products may only be needed in certain seasons. For example, a particular store may sell cleaning supplies to schools, which means that they will want to stock more products at the start of each term, but less during summer holiday period. Knowing this can help your sales team to phone the store at the exact right time, with a great offer on school cleaning products.

Salespeople should also be mindful of when they call clients. Research by RingDNA has shown the best days to call prospects are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 06:45 to 09:00 and 16:00 to 18:00, while the worst days to call are Monday mornings and Friday afternoons.

It’s data driven. Sales calls should never be based on assumptions of what a customer might want or need. People are naturally biased, and just because the salesperson likes a particular product it doesn’t mean that the customer will too.

Rather, calls (and decisions about who to call and when) should be driven by insightful customer data analytics and buying trends. Your business already has vast amounts of information about your clients and this info should be used to inform the sales calls your team makes.

Use the data you have to make sure your sales team calls the right people, at the right time, with the right product. According to Gartner Inc in a firm of 100 to 500 employees, an average of just seven people are involved in most buying decisions. These are the people your team should be speaking to.

Sales teams can also look at what a customer last bought and how often they reorder to determine whether they might be in the market for the specific product your business is trying to sell.

Historic data will also tell you when your customers are the most responsive (a particular customer might never answer the phone in the afternoon) and will help your sales team better use their time by eliminating unsuccessful calls.

Getting rid of your team’s junk call addiction and instead making carefully planned, information-led calls will massively enhance the performance of your team. Cutting down on unproductive calls will not only free up more of your team’s time, it will also increase their chances of success because each call will have a purpose, making it more personal and more profitable. And your customers will thank you too, as no-one likes to be badgered with unnecessary and uninformed sales spiel.

The correct use of customer data can streamline your sales process and make your office a junk call-free environment. Convincing your employees to stop eating junk food, however, is a different matter.


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