Telesales training is a hard, thankless task. How can you train your employees to be “natural” salespeople if they don’t come with an innate gift or knack for selling? Is it possible to convert non-sales-type people into top-performing sellers? What is the secret that great salespeople have that the rest of us don’t?

Well, it turns out, there are tricks of the trade that can help even the most awkward salesperson improve. Here’s a hint: It’s not what the salesperson says, necessarily, that will close the deal. In sales, timing is paramount.

Be careful when using a script

One of the key points to keep in mind when selling is that you are not “selling.” You are having a conversation. While it may seem important to help keep your staff on-point by providing them with scripts, here’s a handy bit of telesales training advice: a script can hinder a conversation. A script dictates that your staff should say certain things to probe about the prospect’s current product, and a script tries to help steer the talker toward a sales closer. In theory, this should work well if the prospect responds to each question according to “the script,” but in practice, that rarely occurs. If it does occur, then your salesperson and the prospect are not truly engaging in a conversation. They’re engaging in a formal, scripted sales call, and few people enjoy the act of being roped into trying to buy a product. So the first step in helping improve your telesales training is to teach your reps that they should be mindful of certain points, but they should not read from a script. They should engage in a conversation, first and foremost.

In sales, it’s not location, location, location. It’s timing, timing, timing

The real estate maxim “location, location, location” could be re-stated for sales to be “timing, timing, timing.” In sales, it’s not so much what you say, but when the key points are addressed that can make or break a sale. A best telesales training practice tip to keep in mind is making sure your sales team understands the appropriate context for asking important questions. For example, don’t train your staff to open the conversation by asking who the competitor is buying from – this question is perfectly appropriate, but the timing of the question is what really matters. If the prospect describes a problem that has been ongoing with their current product, then it is appropriate to ask who the supplier is. Similarly, if you know your product is priced higher than the competition’s, weave this narrative in when the prospect is discussing the issues he or she is having with the competitor’s product. Don’t state this upfront. Make sure it flows into the conversation during the time when there is that “ah ha” moment of what your prospect’s problem is, sealed by the reassurance that your (more expensive product) adds value because it will alleviate this problem.

Effective sales is solving a problem

The goal of any and all sales efforts, and, consequently, of your telesales training efforts, is to solve a problem. Your prospects have a problem – even if they’re not aware of their problems. Your team’s goal is to unearth these problems, already armed with the solution that your product can provide. It requires research, thorough knowledge of why your solution is the best fit in the industry, and it requires building a relationship with the prospect. Seen in this light, sales seems a little less intimidating, right? You are not training your team to simply cold call, go for the hard sell, or reach a quota. You are re-framing sales into something more meaningful and more lasting.

The best telesales training requires a multi-pronged approach

To recap, remember that even if you don’t have the most naturally gifted sales team, you can still make winners out of your reps. Often, it’s the “non-salesy” people that have the best results because they are good at building relationships and reading the situation. So throw out the script, teach the value of context and timing, and train your team to be problem solvers and solution presenters.