CEO’s across the county are thumping their desks demanding sales people talk with more customers. So lots of companies are going outbound, no longer waiting for customers to come to them. We want those conversations to be good conversations obviously. But is sound a barrier to your sales? I mean the sound quality of all those phone conversations. It’s easy to overlook, easy to fix and I think it can have as big an impact as lots of other things you’re trying as you fight this recession.
Driving home recently, as the car warmed up and my attention shifted from freezing to death to a conversation on the radio something got my attention: how intimate a good conversation is. Two people separated by a continent, across the ether, talking like they were sitting next to each other. Two people in two sound-proofed studios, with headphones and mikes and audio so clear they could almost sense each other.
It made me aware of the phone calls I’ve made since I bought a stereo phone headset (yes that’s right two headphones and a mike). The sound has been great. And so have the conversations. I can hear every word, every nuance in the conversation, every hesitation – and that added information really helps me communicate more effectively. My conversations have even been intimate, though not in a way my partner needs to worry about.
There are three problems in any sales pit with regards to sound.
The more noisy it is, the more sales people lack intimacy with the customer. Have you ever noticed that the best telesales people are often the most intimate. They speak quietly and really listen. They’re not selling with cute techniques. If you’re solution selling, you’ve got to listen and listen well.
In noisy sales pits, the buzz can be intense but often the sales people can’t really hear themselves. Ever had a sales person who knows the product, works real hard, but doesn’t quite perform like he or she should? Chances are, he isn’t listening to himself enough, even though he may be listening as hard as he can to the client. If he’s talking loudly into the phone because his neighbors conversations are distracting, he probably needs ear protection. Have you tried having a conversation next to a jackhammer or several jackhammers?
This is one is really important. How do you feel as a customer when you deal with a call center and hear all those other sales people in the background? How special do you feel? With the sound of the sales pit in the background, the customer is never relieved from the reality that he or she is being sold to. Is that how we want our sales conversations to sound?
Bi-aural headsets are often difficult to find in the retail stores, but Logitech and Plantronics both have great products and they’re priced similarly to the single ear sets. The cushioning and noise canceling is great.
Improving the sound of sales can be a really small expense and easy to rectify. The net effect is sales people improve their listening, stop shouting and the quality of the conversation improves noticeably with every sales person who I’ve had try this. In addition overall noise level in the sales pit drops so the customer stops being reminded it’s a sales call. It’s a big impact…of the sort of magnitude we should be looking for in these tough times.