Smile, Dial, and Pile Up Sales
by Brian Jud
Your telephone can be as useful a marketing tool as a press release, an advertisement, a media interview, or an online or offline promotional activity. You can make a big impact on your sales in a short period if you use the phone effectively to make appointments, follow up, do research, network, and convert qualified suspects into hot prospects.
In other words, your telephone can be an important ally when marketing your books. But it can also be your biggest enemy. The difference lies in how you use it.
Some guidelines will help you use it well.
Create a script before you start calling.
Actors use scripts to make their performances precise and capable of being reproduced regularly. Professional speakers use scripts so their presentations will be smooth and complete. When you use a script to make your telephone calls more effective and efficient, the right words will walk right out of your mouth.
A script is not a detailed document you read word for word to your prospect, eliminating spontaneity and charisma. Instead, it should be an outline, providing consistency, security, and momentum for your calling efforts.
Although the words you use on any one call may or may not be the same words you use on another, a script ensures that you can move from point to point, methodically.
The script should make your major points sequentially while keeping the conversation proceeding in an orderly fashion toward its proper conclusion. If you begin to lose track of your thoughts, your script will keep you moving ahead, marching with the precision of a trained soldier who knows the drill. It can eliminate periods of awkward silence caused by searching for the proper words.
When you place a call to someone, one of two things will occur. Either you will get voicemail, or a human will answer. If you get voicemail, leave a concise, provocative, benefit-laden message giving the person a reason to call you back. Here are several elements to cover in 20 seconds:
• a greeting that includes the name of the person you’re calling
• your name and reason for calling
• the reason your message is important
• a request for a return call
• your contact information
• a good time to call you
• a thank-you, in closing
Eventually you will talk to a real person. When that happens, project friendliness but get down to business quickly. If you talk about the weather until your prospects say, “I’m really busy now. What can I do for you?” you have probably succeeded in pushing them past the point where they will be amenable to your proposal.
Make a list of the people you want to contact, and then set aside different times to make different kinds of calls—one time slot for networking, one for prospecting, and one for follow-up. You will be more focused when your thoughts are on one objective.
During the Conversation
Speak from the listener’s perspective. If you start by saying that you have to sell your books because you need money, you are not giving anybody an incentive to listen. Speak about the listener’s needs. Does this person want increased profits? More satisfied customers? Better employee morale? How can your books help each listener reach existing goals?
Define the parameters. Immediately tell your prospects who you are, why you are calling, and how it will benefit them. Then indicate how much time the call will take.
Get attention quickly. Give each prospect a reason to listen to what you have to say. Do not come across as if you are saying, “I was randomly dialing the telephone and got you. You don’t need any books today, do you?” Provide a hook to get the listener involved, just as you would with a press release. You might begin by talking in terms of a newsworthy event (“I’m introducing . . . announcing . . . ”) and then quickly relate that to a benefit for the listener. Or you might begin by saying, assuming this is true, that you’ve been referred by a mutual friend.
Ask for permission to talk. By definition, cold calls are unexpected, and your prospects are probably busy doing something else. If you go directly into your pitch, they may be irritated by your interruption and lack of courtesy. Instead, after you get the listener’s attention, ask, “Is this a good time to talk about this, or should I call back later?” If you are requested to call back, set a specific time to do so. If you proceed now, respond with attention to the typical prospect’s unspoken message: “OK. Now you have my attention. Tell me what you have to say, and you had better make it worthwhile.”
With a major prospect, do not try to sell on the first call you make. Once you have the prospect’s attention and permission to proceed, follow your opening statement with a comment enticing the prospect to invite you to come in for a personal meeting or to agree to meeting at an upcoming trade show or other gathering. Do not tell your entire story now; tell only enough to whet the prospect’s appetite. Your objective should be to arrange a face-to-face meeting with the ultimate decision-maker.
Learn, then earn. If you have no choice but to begin the sales process on the phone, ask questions to get the prospect talking so you can uncover criteria for making purchases. Questions that bring buying motives to the surface might deal with whether the prospect’s company has used books as premiums in the past. If not, why not? If so, what were the results? Accumulate information you can use later to make a more formal proposal.
Step by Step to Success
Getting through to a corporate buyer is basically a question-and-answer process with you asking most of the questions. For example, you may be working to sell your 6″× 9″ book about dieting. Even though your prospects like its content, they may be interested in using a book as a premium and decide that your book is too big.
You will lose the sale if you persist in pushing your book as is. A successful dialogue might go like this:
Prospect: That is great information, but I was looking for something smaller as a premium.
You: If information from this book was available as a booklet [or in a rack-sized paperback], would you be interested in buying it?
Prospect: Probably. Sales are down this month, and that would more likely fit my budget. A booklet about dieting would definitely help my customers.
At this point, you know that the prospective buyer likes your content, that the buyer wants to offer a premium that will give customers valuable information so that sales will increase, that the buyer’s idea of a premium is not a big book, and that cost is important. Also, you have a verbal agreement to buy your shorter, cheaper publication.
The question is no longer, Can I make this sale? Now the questions are: What size should the booklet be, or how long should the rack-sized paperback be? And how many should I print? You have done better by getting someone to buy what they wanted than you would have by sticking to selling what you had. And there’s an added benefit: You now have another product to sell to similar prospects.
Smile when you dial. People will be able to hear the friendly tone of your voice, and that will put them at ease.
Relax and persist. Some people approach telephoning anxiously, finding reasons to delay calling. The more calls you make, the easier they will become.
Use a landline. A good connection will give you greater clarity. Avoid using a cell phone for important calls since it could distort your voice, eliminating its personality, or it could simply conk out.
Spell your name if it’s difficult or different: “That’s Jud, J-U-D.”
Periodically make listening noises. Actively listen as your prospects talk, and let them know you are doing so. They cannot see your gestures and may not be sure they are getting their points across. At times say, “That’s interesting,” or, “I agree,” or use some other short phrases to communicate your understanding, or lack thereof.
Mind your body language. Do not slouch in your chair. If you sit up straight or stand, it will be easier to gesture and add proper inflections to your voice, and they will come across.
Speak up. Talk into the handset and do not let your volume trail off at the end of a sentence.
Eliminate minimizers that reduce the importance of what you have to say. These include phrases such as, “I’m just calling to . . . ” or “I’m only calling to . . . ”
Use the telephone strategically and correctly for each type of call you are making. When you are courteous and talk with people, not at them, you will see how effective the telephone can be as a publisher’s marketing tool.
Brian Jud now offers commission-only sales of nonfiction, fiction, and remainders to buyers in special markets. To contact him: P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001; 860/675-1344; fax 860/270-0343; BrianJud@BookMarketing.com; premiumbookcompany.com.