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Bullying Customers – Who Owns The Call?

Natural Training has a unique insight into sales calls – as part of one service we record sales calls on behalf of our clients so that we can give them real-world feedback on their sales performance. It’s called Call Doctor – find out more here.

Through this we start to get a feel of what works, and what doesn’t, and a worrying trend nowadays is that sales people simply can’t get a word in edge-ways.

In the last 12 months, we’ve seen customers start to completely take ownership of the call, what we like to call “getting owned”. It’s essentially when a customer bullies the salesperson, never giving them the chance to actually sell.

Furious executive biting phone receiver

Where’s this come from? Simple. AWARENESS

Through a growing awareness of the market they’re buying from and access to so much more information than ever before, customers are bringing an over-confident bravado to the sale. They have the ball in their court, and they’re refusing to give it up easily. Who can blame them?

Think about cost comparison websites. Talk about power to the customer! I was sent through my new car insurance costs for the year (a climb on last year, despite being the model customer), so I thought I’d take a look at what my provider’s competitors were offering. It took about five minutes to get accurate quotes and offers on the table. Many of which were better than mine. I simply called my provider, told them that they had to compete with the alternative offers or I was leaving. They did, and I stayed. The system that the sales person was using to generate my new quote was slower than the FREE to use comparison site that I was on! I held the cards; the sales person was utterly powerless. An unfortunate knock-on from this, of course, is that customer’s also tend to have shorter fuses too. And, when you’re treading on eggshells for fear of putting the customer off, it is impossible to sell. Something has to change.

So how do salespeople regain that all-important control of the conversation?

Calm, assured delivery

As a salesperson, your on-the-phone demeanour should already be something you’ve built up and worked on. But even the most seasoned of professionals will stutter like a nervous 16-year-old when faced with a high-profile client who thinks they’ve got you in the palm of their hand. Do this at the start, and you’re out for the count.

1. Go in with confidence

Map out what you’ll say – maybe even plan ahead if you can assume where the conversation will go. Practice it. Eliminate waffle and get straight to the point.

Natural Training insider tip: ‘Discourse Markers’ are those semantically empty parts of speech that we include every day, mostly serving only to fill a gap or to frame what the speaker is saying. ‘Like’, ‘just’, ‘you know’, ‘I mean’ and ‘well’ are some of the usual suspects. Make an effort to cut them out. Want to practice? Next time you meet with you sales team make everyone pay £1 for every ‘like’, ‘just’, ‘you know’ that is uttered. It will get you into the right frame of mind for the next sales call. It’s about being clinical with your language, direct and confident.

2. Firm structure

The structure is like the muscular core of the sales call. If the structure is strong, you’ll enjoy a stable phone call. Map out where you’d like the call to go – if you have four bases you want to cover, decide which would open the call well, and a vague ordering of the remaining points. A strong structure like this not only shifts the control, but gives a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere to your call. This way, customers will offer more.

3. Expert knowledge

The self-assured, ‘bully’ figure will call expecting the same old sales spiel – as long as they’re met with the same old familiar target, they’ll push on as usual. So, catch them off guard. Offer new insights from the off, and make sure you demonstrate your knowledge of the field early on. You’re what we call the domain expert (a topic we tackle here), and your intense knowledge of your particular field stands you apart from the competition. Trust is incredibly powerful in sales, because people buy from people they trust. By being an expert you will be trusted more and more – and, in turn, you will sell more and more.

Think about my call to the insurance provider. What the comparison site gave me was a load of information in cost from the competition. I was the king of cost, I knew that my company was quoting too high. So, why didn’t the guy selling move me away from cost? He should have started to explain the benefits of staying with his company, and the hassle of moving. Perhaps he could have illustrated just how knowledgeable he was in the field of car insurance by telling me about the uniqueness of his offering and the company. But no, he simply put his hands up and admitted defeat. I would have respected him more if he’d imparted some actual knowledge and insight…

Remember: Expertise brings respect too. A mutual respect during the phone call shifts the balance back in your favour.

And that’s the secret – mutual respect. We’re not telling you to try to wrestle the upper hand and beat them down, but reaching a point where you’re both on the same page, and looking to do some mutually beneficial negotiation, is the key to a winning sales call.

Want to find out more about the most effective sales calling strategies? Perhaps you’d like to hear about some of the work we have carried out with international organisations on this very topic? Call the team to find out more.

Remember you can also download FREE chapters of our new book, The Natural Sales Evolution.

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