What makes a great telephone sale representative? Is it personality or skill, luck of the territory or the ability to keep grinding out those dials? The answer lies in a careful analysis of what the sales assignment requires. It is not uncommon for a telephone sales person who has been very successful in one position to be mediocre or even fail in another.
Creating a great telephone or inside sales rep starts before the hiring process begins. Management must have a clear sense of what the position will entail. This is accomplished by considering the objective of the position and what behaviors are needed to achieve this. Ask yourselves what the person will need to do to in order to achieve their goals.
Prospecting and customer sales positions have very different emphasis. Although certain traits are shared, it can be very difficult for a customer sales person, who regularly handles repeat business, to emotionally deal with the frustrations of the prospecting process, particularly if it is a long closing cycle. Customer reps like the positive affirmations that come regularly with their job. These affirmations come from either customers who purchase with relative frequency or from the satisfaction of keeping a customer happy with their attention and service. At the same time, a rep who has spent a lot of time prospecting, may find it difficult to maintain the service orientated relationship that customer sales entails. They may look for a quick result and move on.
In addition to a higher tolerance for rejection, a prospecting project will require an emphasis on a high amount of dials. The more one is shot down, the more calls one must make.
However, it is important to note that a customer sales assignment may still require a high amount of dials. In order to increase productivity, often the easiest way to do so is to increase the number of dials each day. This means that the customer sales rep must be able to stay focused enough to achieve their sales goals. It is easy for customer sales reps to make “busy work” and hand holding fill their days while convincing themselves they are being productive. This can lull management into a false sense of security. Without sales results, however, the customer sales rep is not being effective. Remember, whether a customer sales rep or prospecting sales rep, in the end they must be accountable for measurable results.
Take stock of the selling techniques that your inside sales assignment requires. Tangibles are different from intangibles. For some, it will be simpler to sell a physical product, like a pen or a machine or a car. Although purchasing over the telephone, buyers in many cases can sample the product: see, touch, use their own senses to compliment what the sales person has been saying. In selling a service, the inside rep must be able to create the experience solely with their words over the telephone. Again, these are two different skill sets.
Another difference between prospecting and customer sales can often be found in the compensation structure. Sales management must be vigilant that they are rewarding correct behaviors.
High producing sales reps are motivated by money. They will carry out activities on the job that directly affect their income. If they don’t see a process or procedure as contributing to that, a manager will inevitably have problems with sales reps complying. Many customer sales reps are less motivated by money per se, but will want to see rewards and recognition for their work.
If you are a small company, don’t fall in love with the idea of hiring from large “name” companies. Often, these reps have been used to a level of support that you will be unable to provide. During the interview process make sure the candidate sales rep understands what working for your organization will be like. Although someone from a larger concern can bring with them ideas and a different viewpoint, if they are not willing to make changes to their office lifestyle, you may just find yourself with a disgruntled rep who will look for the first opportunity to get back to a larger firm.
A careful analysis of all these factors will help management create a profile of the experiences and traits a telephone sales person will need to succeed in your organization. So, who is the best telephone sales representative? The one who is best for your company.
Jo Ann Kirby is president of KRG Communications Group. She has 20 years experience in ins