Customer phone calls are important to any e-commerce or brick and mortar business. Want to learn some tips, tricks, and best practices to make your customer phone calls more effective? Let’s take a look at how to handle sales related phone calls in the first part of my two part series on customer service.

Part 1: Handling Sales Related Customer Calls

Seeing an Opportunity
This process is very similar to interacting with a customer in your brick and mortar retail store or even at a gun show. In the e-commerce world helping customers over the phone is not only necessary, but also a great opportunity to help and connect with customers. A person calling your phone line is probably looking to make a purchase, but before we begin, we need to lay down some ground rules for customer call.

Establish a Greeting

First greet each customer in a professional manner. A simple way to do this is to say, “Hello, (your business name), this is (your name), how can I help you?”
This will put the customer at ease, it ensures they have gotten to the right place and are talking with a real person. You now need to let the customer talk and tell you what they are looking for.

Asking the Right Questions

So let’s say for the sake of this post that, you own a gun store and a customer has called you. You greet politely them as usual and the customer then asks you, “What gauge shotgun do your recommend for skeet shooting?” This isn’t a waste of your day, it’s a buying signal.

Once they have said what they are looking for repeat it back to them and ask another probing question. This shows that you are listening and trying to help them. Try to ask questions that will give you insight into the customer’s needs. Avoid questions that make the customer unsure or intimidated. If you ask the right questions you should be able to get a very clear sense of your customer’s wants and needs.

Establishing a Budget

Next, you need a budget. Ask them, “How much are you looking to spend?”
Be prepared for two types of answers. You are either going to hear a number or they are going to ask you to make a recommendation.

• A number is easy. From there you would talk about products that are at or around their target range. Don’t be afraid to recommend something that isn’t exactly at their number. If they don’t need to spend as much or if they may need to spend a little more to accomplish their goal, tell them, and make your honest recommendation. They will be much happier with something costing 10-20% more or less than the number they mentioned if it is the right product for them.

• Recommending a price range is more difficult, but it’s nothing to be intimidated by. Simply think about it this way; recommend a specific product that you would want to purchase given two conditions:

• You are looking to get a high quality item that will last a long time

• You are looking to invest a decent amount of time and energy using the product you buy. If possible recommend something that you have had some personal experience with.

Benefits are Key to Any Sale

Once you have established a budget and recommended a product you need to start listing benefits and explain why you are making that recommendation. A benefit is the positive effect on your customer of a certain feature. For example a feature of a rifle may be a picatinny rail. The benefit to a picatinny rail is that they can easily attach any accessory that they may want often without using tools, so they won’t need to get a screwdriver out to add a tactical light on to their gun.

Keep talking about benefits and be sure to put the product where the customer can see it. An effective way to do this is to direct the customer to the product on your e-commerce website or to email them a link.

When you have both chosen a product and outlined some benefits it is now time to listen to the customer’s concerns and talk with them about their objections. Be sure to answer all of their questions as professionally as possible and find them the right information if you have to. It is important to re-establish that this is the right product for the customer when dealing with objections. Then keep talking about benefits.

What if The Customer Doesn’t Like What You Recommend?

If the customer doesn’t like what you have picked out for them don’t argue. The response to that is, “Ok, no problem let’s find you something else.”
Then move on. The important part here is to make a sale NOT make your point or try to change the customer’s mentality.

Closing the Sale

Once the customer is seeing the benefits and how they can work for them ask for the sale by inquiring, “Is this something I can ship out to you today?” or in the case of firearms, “what FFL will I be sending this gun to?” If the customer really likes the product it is worth trying an assumptive add-on close. In this case, a good way to do this would be to say, “how about some extra choke tubes to go with your new shotgun?”

Odds are these questions will lead your customer in the right direction without being forceful. Once you do make the sale reinforce that the customer has made a good decision and that they will be happy with their new product.

If you do have to end the call before the sale is made remember to follow up with the customer. Ask for permission to send him some information about the products he is looking for. You can easily email the customer links to products on your site with a personal note recommending certain items.

Want More?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has created a great video talking about in person customer interactions. A lot of it applies over the phone and it is worth spending time to watch. Taking these steps on the phone and in person will leave your customers happier and put more money in your pocket.

Written By: Kyle Jazwiecki – Account Manager