Over 20 years of managing, training and analysing successful Telesales reps (TSRs), looking at results, personality traits, voice patterns, interviewing customers, the one common denominator in a successful telesales person is the ability to let the customer feel they made the buying decision.
So you don't know the difference between a sale and a buy?
A sale is where the salesperson has their way with the customer. Just think about it! Nobody likes the feeling, that your will has been turned into clay in a smart salesperson's hands. Sure you did get your sale, but getting your way with the customer, and not being sure they really wanted to buy even though they signed on the dotted line, so to speak, will leave a lingering doubt in your mind whether you did the right thing. This feeling very quickly leads to a cynical outlook and over time you become a salesperson who is only in it for the money, not to satisfy customer needs. In fact, you can probably never return to the same customer again. As a salesperson you move from job to job as soon as you have been through the prospect base.
Think of yourself as a customer. Do you like to be sold? No, if you're like myself, you prefer to think that you decided to buy. In fact, research on customer buying patterns clearly shows that the customer who bought rather than got sold something is 12 times more likely to return and buy more.
Soft selling vs. hard selling
These are concepts invented by cynical sales managers who can't be bothered to analyse sales results and break the sales cycle into its component parts and train the telesales rep. Instead they simply scream "Give me results!".
Results come from understanding and listening to the customer during the sales cycle and the ability of the TSR to identify the customer's needs and present how your product or service fulfils those needs.
The ability to listen
It is no coincidence that big corporations with a professional sales force invest in training systems. These systems teach the sales rep to ask questions, listen to the answers, and tailor new questions from the information in order to identify the real needs of the customer. ( SPIN sales training was developed in the 70's and is still to this day used by IBM, Xerox and most other sales force driven companies). This idea, to ask customers questions, gave rise to the term 'Consultative Selling'. The same principles apply to telesales.
So, my tip to you is 'make the customer buy'. Its more rewarding for you and the customer, and it will give you a sales future in which you can feel proud and happy, rather than cynical and dishonest.