Even without picture-taking
and Web-surfing capabilities, the phone is a powerful tool for publishers. You
can use it to persuade buyers and booksellers, among others, to purchase your
books. And you can also use it to do research, arrange media coverage, handle
follow-up, network with peers and trading partners, and pitch targeted
The telephone may be best of all
for contacting potential buyers in special sales markets, since many of them do
not buy books through distributors. Instead, they buy directly, which means
that you are the one who has to contact them, convince them to place an order, and
close the sale—all of which you can do, and may have to do, by phone.
To improve your telephone
communication skills, and perhaps sell more books more quickly, try the
guidelines that follow.
· It is normal to be apprehensive.
Most people approach telephoning anxiously. But the more calls you make, the
easier they will become. You will find that most people are polite and
sympathetic. Just sit down, start calling, and soon you will feel more
comfortable doing it.
· Do not call your top prospects
first. Practice by telephoning some less-important prospects. Work out the
kinks in your presentation and familiarize yourself with the questions and
comments people will have for you.
· As you plan your week, block out
time each day for making telephone calls. Then subdivide your phone time. You
should schedule some time for prospecting, some for sales, some for networking,
and some for follow-up.
· Set an objective for each call and
a target for the number of calls you will make in a given period. Also, record
the results you expect from each call and the results you actually get.
· Prepare for each call. It is very
important to get complete and immediate attention. So that you will be able to
give people on the other end of the line some reason to listen to what you have
to say, learn something about them before you call. Do not come across as if
you are saying, “I’m calling everybody I can think of. Do you need any books
· Do not try to sell on the first
call you make to a major prospect. Your objective at that point should be to
arrange a personal meeting with the ultimate decision-maker.
· Use a script.
The Script as Scaffolding
Just as professional speakers use
scripts to make their talks smooth and complete, you can use a script to make
your telephone conversations more effective and efficient.
Leave room at the top of your
script to write the name of the person you are going to call. Although you
should, of course, spell the name correctly in your records, you should spell it
phonetically on your script. It is important to use the listener’s name
regularly, and mispronouncing it is likely to cause ill will.
Your script should not be a
detailed document that you read word for word to your prospect, since that
would work against the spontaneity and charisma you want to project on the
telephone. Instead, it should be a framework that builds consistency, security,
and momentum into your calls.
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> The words you use probably will and should vary from
call to call, since your presentation should always be tailored to the needs of
a particular prospect. But the sequence in which you present your information
should be consistent on every call. Begin your script with an attention-getting
introduction, and outline different ways to get the listener’s attention under
a variety of conditions so you can quickly choose the one that is most
appropriate to each specific situation. Then move on through a compelling and
concise presentation, and end with the request for action that you want the
prospect to take on this call.
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> A script should contain the general questions you
want to ask as well as the major points you want to communicate. Having those
elements in front of you will ensure that your conversation proceeds in an
orderly fashion toward its proper conclusion. If you begin to lose track of
your thoughts, your script will keep you moving ahead and eliminate periods of
awkward silence as you search for what you want to say next.
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> If you are having success with your telephone
activities, reusing your script will help you continue on a roll. And if a call
goes sour and you need to bounce back, your script will make it easier for you
to make the next call.
The first person to whom you are
apt to speak, particularly in a corporate setting, is the receptionist. You
should always be courteous in your telephone conversations, and this is no
exception. If you have a name, simply say, “Is Mr. Thompson still the vice
president of marketing? May I speak with him?” Alternatively, you can ask for
the name of the person who holds a particular job.
In many cases, you will be invited
to leave a voicemail message, and that message will help determine whether you
receive a return call. Give the person a reason to call you. Do not leave a
message about your book. Leave a message about what your book can do for the
prospect. Use only two or three sentences to explain why it will benefit the
recipient to return your call, what is a good time to call you, and what your
contact information is. Repeat your name and phone number twice, enunciating
carefully each time.
When a prospect actually answers
the telephone, remember that this person was doing something before you called.
The fact that you are interrupting makes it even more imperative to present a
reason to listen to you, either now or at another time under more favorable
conditions. So after you offer the statement you have designed to get the
person’s immediate positive attention, follow with a question about
Whenever the full conversation
· Be precise. Tell your prospects
quickly who you are, why you are calling, and how much time the call will take.
· Project friendliness, but get down
to business quickly.
· Speak from the other person’s
perspective. Think about their needs. Do they want increased profits? More
satisfied customers? How can your books help them reach their goals?
If you use your telephone well,
you can sell more books to more people in less time.
Brian Jud is the author of <span
class=8StoneSans>Beyond the Bookstore
(a Publishers Weekly book) and The Marketing Planning CD-ROM, which tells how to sell
more books profitably to special-sales buyers. His Special-Sales Profit Center
is used by R.R. Bowker to sell publishers’ books. To contact him, write to P.
O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001; call 800/562-4357; email
firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.bookmarketing.com.