Million Dollar Phone Call

Million Dollar Phone Call

Pick up a million dollars by picking up the telephone.

By Renee B. Walkup

Robin Blass has been selling real estate for 25 years and is recognized as one of Coldwell Banker’s top agents, generating an estimated $32 million in annual sales. Blass has sold more than a million dollars in real estate – of all places – over the phone. 

“I sold a $3.3 million home to a couple who had been searching for that perfect place to call their own,” Blass says. “After showing them the property, all of my negotiating was conducted over the phone. Once you’ve gotten that person on the line, clients at this price point are generally savvy and more educated, so it was imperative that I ask the right questions to determine their needs and establish a level of trust.” 

Blass isn’t the only one. Jeffrey Gitomer, a N.C.-based speaker and author of The Little Red Book of Selling (Bard Press, 2004),  says the way to make a million over the phone is to “call someone who has a million dollars and sell them something.” Gitomer advises, “Use your existing asset base of customers, friends and contacts to earn referrals. Gain referral testimonials. Be so memorable … that you make the sale and earn other referrals.” Selling strictly on the phone should not be a deterrent to making the big money. 

A confidential study conducted by a $2.2 billion company found that five days after being contacted, 50 percent of its customers couldn’t recall whether the contact was face-to-face or by phone. For this company, a face-to-face contact cost $460, while a phone call cost $18. 

“All of our business is negotiated over the phone,” says Cherie Marchio, vice president of distance sales for Thomson Learning in Independence, Ky. Marchio trains and leads a team of 70 professional tele-salespeople who never see clients face-to-face; yet they generate in excess of $100 million in sales per year for their parent company. “Year after year they keep getting better and making more money,” she says. 

You’re more likely to get large commitments from potential clients if you “structure arguments that pull them through the process rather than push them,” says Harry Mills, CEO of The Mills Group, an international consulting firm based in New Zealand. “If you ask people why they like something rather than tell them that they should like something, you’ve got a much greater chance of being successful at persuasion.”

Top 10 Tongue Tricks

1. Organize thoughts before speaking.

2. Notice the customer’s personality style, then match it.

3. Get to the point without wasting time. Understand the customer’s real message or need.

4. Tell less, ask more.

5. Eliminate the urge to interrupt your customer.

6. Time your approach when asking questions and responding.

7. Remember not to multi-task while on the phone.

8. Invest in a wireless headset in order to take notes.

9. Create a real sense of urgency.

10. Craft a solution that addresses client needs.


The Secret to Telephone Success

Make at least 20 outbound calls daily. Just like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Interest. If your opening line is “How are you?” you’ll risk sounding like an amateur telemarketer. Open with a compelling statement like: “Hello, Janet, this is Renee Walkup with SalesPEAK. John Michaels said we should talk about your sales team’s need to boost profits.” If possible, use a referral and include the word “need” in your opener.

Listen. Because we can’t read body language over the phone, we need to listen between the lines for hidden meanings. The better you are at this, the closer you are to making a million over the phone.

Lead your customers through decisions. Get them to talk and resist the urge to “tell” so much. Customers love to hear themselves talk, so learn what they have to say and watch the sale close more quickly.

Influence change. Ken Blanchard, best-selling coauthor of The One Minute Manager (William Morrow, 1982), says customers dislike change. So just show that he or she has a problem, a need, a desire to fulfill, and that you have a solution.

Organize your callClear your desk, turn off the beeper, and have a list of questions and a plan of action in front of you. Call the customer after hours, listen to the voicemail to identify the customer’s personality style and work that into your call.

No need to travel to the customer’s site. A Stanford University study shows knowledge leads to only 15 percent of sales successes, while enthusiasm results in the other 85 percent. Use this to help you negotiate a close.

Renee P. Walkup is president of SalesPEAK Inc. and coauthor of Selling to Anyone Over the Phone (Amacom, 2005).
This originally appeared in the December.January 2006 issue of PINK Magazine.

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