Tips for Selling Shoes and Answering Service
Mishandling Leads Will Result in Lost Sales
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Over a decade ago, in my article “I Want To Buy Some Shoes,” I used my experience buying a pair of sneakers to talk about the TAS industry. Now, I’ll do it again. With my wife serving as my accomplice, she guided me into the inner workings of that dreaded place called the mall.
Ignoring Leads: The first place was a small storefront, empty of shoppers, but with a staff of two. We had to brush by them to reach the tennis shoe display. They continued their rapt conversation with each other and ignored us.
The same thing happens at too many answering services. Their marketing campaign brings in the leads, but the salespeople ignore them. Then they complain about their low commission checks. And before you assure yourself that this doesn’t occur at your TAS, submit an inquiry, and see what happens.
Mismanaging Leads: The second store was larger and busier. There the employees helped some customers, but not us. Unable to get assistance, we left.
A second problem answering services face is mismanaging leads. Yes, lead management is a balancing act, but it’s a balance to pursue. Otherwise viable leads leave and go someplace else.
Distracted Lead Follow Up: I browsed the third store until I found a couple pairs I wanted to try. We failed in making eye contact with anyone to get assistance. Frustrated, my wife marched to the cash register and asked for help. One person obliged. He was a personable young man who worked to move us from prospect to buyer, but I must have taken too long to decide. He moved to another customer. Though I was close to making a purchase, we left instead.
Leads never come at a controllable pace. But wise salespeople manage them well and don’t let one lead distract them from others.
Judging Leads: At the fourth store, employees scurried around trying to help customers. As we waited our turn, a young man hustled toward the stockroom. “What cha need?” he asked. I pointed to a shoe on display. He nodded. “Size?” I answered. Before the storeroom door could swing closed he was back, almost tossing me a box of shoes. They weren’t comfortable, and I looked for another pair. The next time he brushed by, he said, “What cha think?” I shook my head, but before I could point to another pair, he said “Thanks for stopping by.” Then he sped off. That’s when I realized we were the oldest people in this store catering to teens and Millennials. True, most of the styles didn’t appeal to me, but some would have worked.
If only he hadn’t dismissed me as a nonviable buyer. How often do your salespeople do that?
Attending to Leads: Though the staff on the floor at the fifth store was busy helping other customers, they acknowledged our presence. Before long someone emerged from the stockroom to help. Though she wasn’t polished in sales or particularly knowledgeable about shoes, she gave us her full attention. She worked with us until we found a pair that fit and I liked. With patience, she waited as I pondered my decision. I bought them, even though they cost more than I wanted to pay. Notice that it wasn’t her product knowledge that sold me; it was her attentiveness.
Now my remaining objective was to escape the mall before I had a panic attack.
Being attentive to leads, helpful, and patient is the best way to move prospects into buyers. This is true in any industry, whether selling shoes or selling answering services.
TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at email@example.com.
Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six Ways to Put Stories into Action
By Henry DeVries
Build an inventory of stories that demonstrate your core values in action. Then deploy the stories. In storytelling, context is everything. You should never randomly tell stories, but instead use stories at the right strategic times. Here are six perfect opportunities to persuade with a story:
- During the Job Interview: No, don’t start the interview telling stories. However, once the candidate has shared about themselves, then the interviewer can share stories about the core values of the organization.
- During a Training Class: Teach core values as a part of training. First, state the core value, and then explain what that means. For them to really get the point, tell a story about that core value in action.
- At Weekly Staff Meetings: One executive boasted that his organization had twenty-two core values, and they were on posters throughout the office. Asked if he had any stories to illustrate them, a little red faced he said, “No.” Now every week at staff meetings they tell a story to illustrate one of the twenty-two core values.
- At Company-Wide Meetings: Is it time to assemble all the troops? Maybe for a change in direction or for recognition? This is a perfect time for core value selling by telling stories.
- On the Company Website: Promote core value stories on your website to show clients and potential clients the power of your brand and services.
- In Company Brochures and Collateral Material: Since stories connect on an emotional level, doesn’t it make sense to put them in writing?
Storytelling helps persuade on an emotional level. That’s why so many Fortune 500 companies are homing in on storytelling techniques and imparting that wisdom on their sales and business development professionals to tell relatable stories that will convince prospects.
Henry DeVries, CEO of Indie Books International, teaches sales and business development professionals how to build an inventory of persuasive stories.
Telephone Answering Service News
Startel Updates Secure Messaging: Startel Corporation released Startel Secure Messaging Plus (SM+). Many new features and enhancements were part of this release, including the ability to respond to group messages and allow the forwarding of messages. SM+ is a two-way direct messaging solution that allows users to securely send and receive messages, including those containing sensitive information. All message content and attachments sent and received on devices using SM+ are encrypted. SM+ is available as a stand-alone, web-based solution or integrated with the Startel CMC. The SM+ app is compatible with the latest versions of Android and iOS (iPad, iPhone, iTouch).
Amtelco Introduces Genesis Just Say It Speech Recognition: The Genesis Just Say It feature enhances the IS Navigation Menu feature by enabling callers to speak responses in addition to pressing telephone keypad digits. It gives callers the ability to access information and conduct transactions using either speech recognition or live operator involvement. The application simplifies and speeds telephone calls, such as listening to what a caller says to interact with them and understand their meaning based on pre-defined parameters. This makes it possible to increase call handling capabilities and call traffic volumes while decreasing labor costs and other operating expenses.
Send us your TAS articles and news for consideration in the next issue.
Quotes for the Month
“Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.” -Arthur Miller
“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” -G.K. Chesterton
“With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.” -unknown