As a professional sales/customer service trainer, I work with many businesses that sell (or have opportunities to sell) both face-to-face and on the phone. Of course, from a development perspective, both of these point-of-sale areas need to be addressed with effective methodology and process institutionalized to maximize selling opportunities.
But what area is more important, face-to-face or on-the-phone?
I can attest with with unwavering certainty, that for businesses where the same employees sell both ways, the phone is by far the more important of the two areas. Why?
Here are my Top 3 Reasons:
1) Resistance is Greater
Simply put, selling face-to-face is easier. When a prospective customer takes the time and effort to visit your store or office they have made a higher level commitment to buying from you than they would have simply phoning in. More often than not that action is premeditated, the customer has determined in advance that you can provide what they need/want and have visited with the intent to buy.
That’s not to say, by any means, that salespeople don’t lose face-to-face sales opportunities as this is a regular occurrence in companies where the salespeople are not well trained or don’t follow an effective selling system. It’s just easier as face-to-face customers’ resistance is typically less than the phone-in prospect that is often just ‘calling around’ for pricing and specifications.
2) Escape-ability is Higher
When a customer is with you face-to-face they cannot easily do anything but interact with you and other members of your team. When a customer phones the business expressing purchase consideration in your products and/or services it is extraordinarily easy for them to disconnect and call one of (or all of) your competitors at light speed if they are not successfully engaged.
Human nature plays a role here too. There’s an emotional connection element when two people interact face-to-face that doesn’t exist on the phone. Accordingly, it’s considerably easier to hang-up and end a phone interaction than it is to walk out on someone face-to-face.
Add in the fact that (to point #1) they took the time and effort to visit your location, most customers are far more willing to stay put and try to make a deal, whereas, on the phone, if things aren’t working out to their satisfaction then they can quickly move on to the next service provider.
3) Communication Deficit
There are 3 elements that compose communication; words, tonality and body language. A salesperson selling face-to-face has all of these communication tools at their disposal to maximize their selling capability. Conversely, on the phone, the single biggest component of communication, physiology (body language) is absent and the salesperson must rely only on what they say (words) and how they say them (tonality).
It is for these reasons I often paraphrase Sinatra’s famous line when speaking about telephone relations to my training clients: “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”
Now that we’ve covered the importance of phone performance, what should you and your team be doing on the phone to maximize results? Plenty and much of it is covered in this recent Tire Review magazine cover story featuring yours truly: Phone Skills Drill.
Have a look!