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Entry Level Sales and Telephone Appointment Setting

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So you’re an entry level sales rep and you’ve been instructed to use the telephone as your primary prospecting method. Your company has not really given you much of an idea on how to go about doing this, but you’re ready to try. Or you’ve been hired specifically to generate appointments for outside sales reps. No problem.

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The first thing you’ve got to do when it comes to telephone appointment setting is to master your terror. Think about this: you are not ruining anyone’s life. You are not destroying anyone’s world. You are not engaging in biological or chemical warfare, committing an act of terrorism, or hurting anybody at all.

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You are making a phone call. If the phone call is not useful to your prospect you have wasted, possibly, thirty seconds of that prospect’s life. Thirty. Seconds. So relax. Chances are, if you don’t get the appointment, you’ll never talk to this person again no matter how mean they are to you.

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Recognize the set of sales skills you are operating here is appointment setting and not selling. It can be tempting to try to sell over the phone, but unless you’re sitting directly in front of a computerized ordering system with the ability to take a credit card, you’re just spinning your wheels anyway. The entire goal here is to just get an appointment. If you’re very lucky your company has given you a script. If not, you’ll have to write your own script, which may sound something like this:

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 “Good morning, my name’s ____ and I’m with _____. I just got a few of your colleagues  involved with _____ and I wanted to see if you had any feedback about it as well. I’d like to set up a time to discuss it with you later. I’ll be in your area on Monday or on Thursday. Which one would be better for you?”

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Feedback is a great word for the phone. Feedback takes away all the notions that you’re a telemarketer. Feedback relieves pressure and fear from the prospect’s mind. Sure, he or she knows you’re ultimately going to attempt to make a sale. But asking for feedback means that he or she can give you the feedback and feel like he or she has fulfilled the social obligation. Of course, once you get to the appointment you’re going to bring your awesome listening, presentation, objection handling, and closing skills to bear to make this person into a customer and not a prospect-but until then it’s okay to leave your prospect with the illusion that you’re not any kind of a threat. After all, you’re not. You’re just a person trying to help him or her out.

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Many books will tell you it’s all about pre-qualification. Pre-qualification is wonderful, if you can keep your prospect on the phone long enough. In this day and age it’s difficult to even get anybody to answer the phone, let alone talk to you on it long enough for you to pre-qualify. The best way you can handle that is to ask the prospect if you can send a preliminary e-mail that will assess his situation so you know how to better serve him or her. This gives you the right to go ahead and fire something off when he or she gives up his or her e-mail address. If what’s inside is a brief description and some questions you’ll have a better idea of where your prospect stands when you walk into that appointment-which are just a few more tools you can use to blow him or her away when it comes time to match needs to products.

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Carmen Rane Hudson
http://www.salessmasher.com/

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