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COVID-19 Selling Catering and Event Services by Phone – Converting Inquiries Into Sales
Phone Skills That Book More Events
I got this question from a new marketing client of mine who founded of a new catering and event company after years of working for someone else.
I’m finally getting leads from the website! This week I got more job inquiries than I ever did before. Now my problem is selling them once they call me. How do you handle an incoming call from a prospective client who is thinking about hiring you? Thanks, L.T. Here are a few tips I passed on to L.T. He reported back that he’s much more relaxed and so far he’s booked a $9,000 job using these ideas. I hope you have the same luck!
First and foremost you want to build rapport quickly. You want the caller to get a good feeling about you and your business. No, this isn’t about “brown-nosing” or “sucking up” or “schmoozing.” It’s about attitude.
Some thoughts to consider before you pick up that phone ….
Attitude of Gratitude. Be happy that somebody is giving you the opportunity to serve them in a way that allows you to use your gifts and talents and make a profit. Don’t act grateful … BE grateful.
Attitude of Service. Be ready to help the caller in whatever way you can – even if that means sending the caller to your competition.
Attitude of Enthusiasm. When I coached L.T. we recorded some of his phone conversations (you can record your side of the call without getting permission) and he was shocked. He was trying to sound like a “business professional.” He sounded as enthusiastic as a Department of Motor Vehicles employee on a Friday afternoon.
Unless you only cater at funerals and bankruptcy hearings most customers are enthusiastic about the event they’re planning. They want to deal with a relaxed, confident and happy event professional.
The Most Important Person in the World.
Dale Carnegie taught us to “Make other people feel important – and do it sincerely.” How do you do that? Ask questions that you really want the answers to and listen carefully to the answers. When was the last time you spoke to someone who really cared about your opinion? Didn’t that make you feel great? Really try to understand what the client is saying – so few people do.
Care. Don’t ask about a client’s fishing trophy if you really don’t care. That’s cheap, insincere and transparent. My style of selling is strictly business – I don’t talk about sports, the weather or how nice your tie is. When I meet you as a prospective client I always get right down to business – not my business – your business.
Prepare. I go into every meeting prepared – I don’t ask questions that a professional should already know. If I’m trying to get a trade show account I know everything I can about the industry, the company, competition and their latest products. If I’m pursuing a sales incentive meeting I know the names and territories of the Sales Managers, the size of the sales force and the demographics of the attendees before I approach the buyer. Knowing what you’re talking about goes much further than unctuous glad-handing.
How do you prepare for an unexpected telephone inquiry? Stop winging it!
Intake Form. Type up an intake form to capture all the information you’ll need … and include questions that your competition isn’t asking.
High Value Questions. Make a list of smart questions that increase your understanding and improve your professional image. List questions that make the client say, “Wow, I’m so glad you asked me that – I didn’t think of that!”
Major Sales Tip! Always ask the caller if they’ve ever hired or experienced a service like yours before. Then ask, “What did you like about it?” and “What didn’t you like about it.” Get the answers to these two questions and your callers will have told you exactly how to sell to them.
When L.T. asked a client what she didn’t like about a previous caterer, the client said she didn’t like the servers – they didn’t look professional. L.T. emailed over photos and testimonials about of his wait staff . He got the job!
Objections. Start keeping track of all the objections you get on the phone … and then prepare a presentation that preempts them. The best way to handle an objection is to structure your presentation so that they never become an issue – but be careful about preventing clients from voicing their legitimate concerns.
L.T. thought that by saying to callers, “Our prices aren’t cheap – because we don’t do cheap work and our clients only want the best,” eliminated the price objection. It didn’t – it made the caller feel too embarrassed from sharing price concerns – and made L.T. sound like a jerk!
Sales Script. No, you never want to read a sales script to a caller and end up sounding like a phony telemarketer … but you do want to make sure you give the caller a great sounding presentation.
Here’s how to write a great telephone sales script: Don’t write it – speak it.
Record and transcribe yourself talking to clients. Listen to your recording with a colleague or coach and pick out the parts you feel do a great job selling your services. Transcribe those phrases – exactly as you spoke them – and create your “pitch.” It will sound like you – but your best you!
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