Where’s your customer when you call at the appointed time?

Where’s your customer when you call at the appointed time?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.


Where’s your customer when you call at the appointed time?

The prospect said, “Call me at 10 a.m.”

Ever call a telephone appointment on time, but get his voice mail instead? Ever call a customer at the appointed time and she has to be “chased down” because she’s in a meeting?

ANSWER: Sure you have.

What if there was a way to get 100 percent of the people to meet with you on the phone 100 percent of the time, on time? There is. The solution to no-show telephone appointments is one of the best-kept secrets in sales. And it’s a solution that I have been using for more than three years.

The solution? An on-demand, toll-free conference line.

Here’s how it works: I use InterCall (www.intercall.com), a third-party conference call provider. They supplied me with a private, toll-free conference call line and a pin number. Either one of my dynamic staff members or I serve as the moderator and set up the call by dialing in. At the appointment time, the customer or prospect dials our conference line number and enters our code on their telephone keypad. With a simple keypad command, I have the option to record the conversation. Yes, all parties are notified that the call is being recorded. I tell my customers in advance so no details are lost. Over the last three years, only one customer declined to be recorded.

But here comes the secret: Instead of passively waiting for my call, the customer has to take action. My customer has to dial into the conference line. The customer dials in, uses the pin number I provide, and PRESTO, everyone is on the line at the same time.

One of the big benefits is that you will no longer be blown off because the prospect or customer is in a meeting. If the prospect agrees to dial in at a specified time, odds are the prospect is gonna make the call. When setting phone appointments the “old” way (which you probably do), if a customer or a prospect agreed to a 10 a.m. phone call, the odds were they would not be there. When scheduling a call with a conference line, the customer is forced to write down the conference line number AND the pin number. It’s a firm appointment, not just a verbal agreement. Conference calls can take place anywhere; no need to be someplace specific. So you don’t have to be there to be “present.” And, my particular service allows up to 125 people to be “present” during a call.

Here’s the cool part: It works!

Same call, same page. The simplicity of dialing in, or even listening to a recorded call, means everyone in the group or in the company receives the same message and gets the same information. This eliminates two things: whisper-down-the-lane communication and errors.

Recording the call ensures every detail is documented and every promise can be kept. Recording also eliminates misunderstanding. We record every conference call and will often transcribe the notes for internal use. Sometimes we surprise our customers by sending them a recap outline and an action-item list, which is guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate.

One other important note about recording: If you know the details are being recorded, your mind is free to see the big picture and generate ideas. Links to the recorded call can be sent to those who missed the call or need the information.

RECORDING BONUS: It’s an incredible training tool. You have the opportunity to listen to yourself. The evidence of your prowess will be painfully audible.

I use the conference line strategy many different ways. (So can you!)

1. To make an initial sales call that’s information intensive. Record it.

2. To make a sales presentation. In some cases, your customer can follow along with slides that you send before the call. Or, instead of distributing the slides before the call, InterCall gives me the option of sharing the slide presentation over the Internet.

3. To solidify ideas or actions with key people. Whenever I give a speech or do a training program, I prepare by talking to several people in several locations to get the information I need. During this call I get the objectives of what senior management expects the speech or training program to contain, and what they expect from me. All of them can dial in at a pre-appointed time and not only get the same information, but everyone can have input.

4. To make strategic follow-up calls. Too often salespeople don’t make a firm appointment to follow-up in the sales call before they leave a customer. When this occurs, it means a salesperson has to chase after the customer, play phone tag, or even phone avoidance. They report their pathetic action by saying, “I couldn’t get the guy on the phone.” What they are saying is, “I’m so bad at sales that I didn’t make a firm appointment to get to the next step in the sales cycle.” SLAP IN THE FACE: All follow-up calls should be solidified BEFORE you leave a sales call. HINT: If you’re not on a sales call, conferences can be arranged by administrative people. Without bothering the prospect, you’ve heightened his perceived importance.

5. To hold virtual meetings. People are often scattered across the country and unable to be in the actual meeting room. Set a conference call time and send everyone an e-mail. If everyone can’t be there physically, they can be telephonically dialed in.

6.5 To close a sale. All decision makers can be on the call no matter where they are located. Your job is to get a commitment.

PERSONAL NOTE: After I’ve completed all of my sales calls, I review the notes for action items and details. Often, I have agreed to send additional documentation for which the conference call notes become critical. Since I started to use the conference call line, our batting average for customer and prospect connection has gone from .333 to 1.000. I love it. The customers love it. And everything is documented. And oh, by the way, we have done tons of deals and have made tons of sales-all of them error free.

Want some more vital reasons to get a conference line and make more sales? Go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word CONFERENCE in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling, is the President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached by phone: 704/333-1112 or e-mail: salesman@gitomer.com

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Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer, Inc 704/333-1112