Telephone outreach has been part of the sales process when selling to schools for many, many years. But with increased responsibilities put on educators, daily distractions in the main office and the fast-pace of the school year, it is tougher than ever to qualify leads and set up quality conversations. That said, there are some tried-and-true education telesales techniques that will help you and your sales team make authentic connections with educators and streamline the sales process.
First, before you ever pick up the phone, be prepared with your thoughts and message. Review contact names and practice pronunciations before dialing. Identify your top prospect at each school you’re calling into because you don’t want to ask for more than one person within a school, even if you have several contacts. If you connect with a school secretary, you may verify the names of other educators and even obtain email addresses, but ask to speak to only one verified decision maker. If the secretary, or person who picked up the phone, suggests other educators who may also be interested in what you’re selling, that is a golden referral so follow that lead!
Receptionists and school secretaries can be amazing resources, as well as your greatest challenge. Big picture, their main goal is to move things along and get you switched over to someone else. Be direct, professional and do not waste time with chit-chat unless it is initiated by the receptionist. Jot down secretaries names and thank them by name at the end of the conversation. Reference their name with the next person you speak with and in future conversations.
If don’t believe your company’s programs and materials are the best out there, neither will anyone else. Every contact is a new opportunity, so never assume that someone isn’t interested in what you have to say and will automatically decline your call. If you believe what you’re saying, and say it with enthusiasm, then it is much more likely that the educators you speak with will too. Laugh and smile a lot. They can hear it in your voice.
Instead of providing general features, advantages and benefits of your program, share what other educators have said, how and why your solution has worked for them, and why they like it so much. Provide apples to apples information with similar situations to the one the person you’re speaking with is in, such as “I just spoke with another literacy coordinator who felt that this is perfect for small group instruction because …” With this approach, you are not telling prospects what you think, you are passing along valuable information provided their peers — fellow educators, just like them.
Always wrap up a call by offering to send additional information via email, and then verify the educators’ email address. If you are setting up a follow up call, verify the time and make note of the time zone for that call. Send an email invite to set up the follow up telephone calls. It’s also a good idea to send an email reminder the day before the scheduled call.
Like everyone these days, educators are busy and their time is precious. A quick phone call is a great way to make a personal connection and stand out from competitors who just send emails. Your personality can shine in a phone call, even if you just leave a voicemail, and that one phone call can start a relationship that ultimately leads to a sale.