Curing Your Phone Phobia: Selling Online Isn’t Just About Email

Posted by
Mike Lyon
Date
 April 21, 2011
Comments
4 comments

I know, when you hear Online Sales you think email, email, email. But the truth of the matter is online is how your prospects find you, it doesn’t mean that’s the only way you should communicate.

With the dwindling effectiveness of newspaper ads, outdated mode of billboards, and general loss of attention span due to the rush rush society we live in, online is where your marketing is going to be most effective. Once you put that online marketing plan in place, and create an Online Sales Program, that’s where the contact starts – but that’s not where it ends. Almost all online sales begin online, develop over the phone, and are finalized at the model home. So it’s time to get over your fear of phone calls.

Do not underestimate the gift of gab.
With email you may end up spending many more contacts back and forth conveying the information needed to get your prospect to an appointment. An email conversation can last hours, days or weeks. A single phone call can get all those questions out in the open and allow you to create urgency for an in person visit. This is why it’s important not only to be articulate in your writing, but to work your phone presence as well.

To polish your phone performance anxieties, here are a few rules of thumb to follow when engaging with prospects on the phone.

If your phone rings, answer it.
Elementary – but it is absolutely necessary to answer the phone as quickly and frequently as possible. No matter how interested a lead is, they are not likely to leave a message. They want immediate answers and connection with a knowledgeable individual on the other line.


Who receives the phone calls?
You’ve spent marketing dollars to drive the traffic, make sure all the numbers listed online go straight to your qualified online sales agent or someone who is dedicated to a fast response. Do not pass go, do not stop at the receptionist, do not go to a recording. You want an immediate, live response.

What’s up with your voice mail?
While we’d like to be on 24-7 there may be moments when you just can’t get to the phone. In this case, make sure you have a voice mail set up with the right message. Your message should provide a greeting, a name and give them an estimated time for a return call and express genuine interest in helping them with a home search.

Did you get their contact information?
No matter how positive, or negative, the prospect may sound on the phone, always get a name, phone number and email. Offer to send out a plat map, floorplan or information on the homes you have been discussing so that you can get an email. Too often the phone call ends with nothing to show for it because you forgot to get the info.

Answer and Ask questions.
After you answer initial questions, start asking other qualifying questions such as area, price, timeframe etc. Many times, a prospect thinks they know what they want but end up with something completely different. Take advantage of the opportunity to pre-qualify your prospects when you have them on the phone. They may call wanting one home, and fall for another because you did your job and got to the root of their needs.

Ask for the appointment.
A simple question, “Have you had the chance to visit our model home?” Can go a long way. Let them know that you’d love to set that up for them, you will be surprised how many people will set the appointment right then.

Leave a voicemail.
Don’t just wait for them to call. If you have a number, use it. If you don’t get them on the phone leave a message, don’t just hang up. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself, let them know you are there to help in their home search. Let them know that you will send an email if that is a better way for them to communicate with you.

There’s the hook. Let them know in the message that if they’d rather communicate via email, you are going to send them an email today for them to reply to. You are now asking them to return your email, or to return your phone call. You give them the choice.

Call to confirm the appointment
Once you set an appointment, let the prospect know you will call to confirm the appointment. Establishing this up front shows the professionalism of the company and following through gives you the chance to make sure they are coming out.

These are some tried and true tips you can use to help get past email, and onto the phone for a detailed interaction with your prospects. Even though 90% of people search for a home online and the majority prefer to use email to receive answers that doesn’t mean you should never, or will never get on the phone with people. Keep your phone skills fresh and continue to follow up.

  • There are a whole host of issues that you raise in this post, Mike. “Telephobia” (as described by Behavioral Sciences Institute) is a real and widespread problem for many salespeople. There are all kinds of reasons…and all kinds of excuses. Alas, the phone call has become a lost art for far too many.

    • So true Jeff – this is the least sexy, hardest part of lead follow up – but it is the area that can help increase sales the most.

  • Mba

    Mike, here is a little addition to your tips…something called Dialing for Dollars: http://www.myersbarnes.com/blog/2008/02/dialing-for-dollars-myers-barnes/

    • That’s no little addition 🙂 Great article Myers!