If you sell business to business the telephone is a very powerful tool to use with your prospects. It is relatively easy to find the people to contact as prospects and the telephone book is a good place to start.
Here are some reasons to use the telephone as part of your prospecting model:
- It is time efficient
- Anyone can do it
- You can generate lots of meetings from the telephone
If these are the facts, why is it that we see so many salespeople struggle? It is the case that most salespeople just cannot deal with the organisation and mindset required to make lots of prospecting calls. It is also common for a certain degree of ‘call reluctance’ to be evident. Top salespeople break through these things, whilst others avoid the challenge.
If you are going to use the telephone to call ‘private people’ and individuals, check out the rules and laws that apply to the ‘do not call register’. You will need to keep within the rules.
If you are new to an industry or new to your job, and sales results are something that you must achieve, then start to master the telephone and bring it into your business model.
Here are some tips to get your business momentum underway:
- Set some goals that relate to results in your career. The goals should be medium to long term and apply to the business year ahead.
- Determine the things that you need to do to reach those goals. You should have a list of 3 to 5 things that if done, will help you move ahead in client numbers and sales orders.
- Find the resources that you need to move ahead with your actions.
- Develop a call prospecting plan that involves the telephone.
- Create a call script and process. Practice what you say and how you make those calls.
- Establish a day plan that allows you to get the key things done that will improve your business and client list.
- Start the action process and do it every day.
- Start building a database as part of your call and customer contact system.
It is very important to create new habits when it comes to building your business. If you do not create new habits, the same results that you got last year will be evident this year. It is hard to set new habits in place, and it will take a high degree of personal focus. After about 3 or 4 weeks you will see progress.
As you start to do these things, track your actions and results. You will soon see some successes, and over time those successes will build. In business today everything is up to you and the systems that you develop.
Personal performance comes from within, and you are the best person to make that happen.
In sales today you must build relationships. It is those relationships that will bring you long term business rather than short term gain.
If you put a networking process into your prospecting model, you will see better results from a customer and sales perspective. So how do you build a networking process? What do you need to do? Here are some ideas to help you.
- Encourage friendship and common interests. Find out what the prospective client likes to do and what sport or interest they may have. Providing their interests are legal and ethical, get involved and do something with that prospect through that common interest. Ask them to join you at the golf course, a sports game or theatre event; whatever may be of interest to them. Involve their partner in the process if that seems appropriate.
- Keep the prospect up to date with market or product updates that can help their business. Invite them to product or service information workshop and industry briefing. Let them test out some of your latest products or services.
- Get some other people in your team involved with the client so that the relationships broaden. Have your most experienced people touch base with your prospect.
- Have frequent coffee meetings or go to lunch. Keep those meetings of high value but not overly long to interfere with the client’s business day. Show respect for time and the client.
- Introduce the client or prospect to other like-minded clients of yours that you have worked with for some time. In this way the friendships can be built.
- Show interest in the clients business and put one of your experienced team members into the clients business for a few days or a week (at no cost to the client), so the systems and processes that the client operates with can be fully understood.
- Give the client some samples of your latest products to use and test. Ask them to give you feedback ‘as an industry based response’ for your head office team.
A lot of this may seem common sense, although experience says that much of it is not done enough today. When you get really involved with your prospect or client by giving them some tips and ideas to save them money or time, your long term client relationship will start to thrive. Good relationships and networking in business today are built from valuable contact.
When you start prospecting for new business it is wise to stop and understand exactly what it is that you do and why someone would use your services. This specific information will help you find more customers and convert them to clients. Define your niche business.
In real terms what you do is match your specific speciality into the customer. This single fact will make all of your cold calls more productive and focused. When you keep your niche business narrow and specific, it makes it a lot easier to talk about the offerings and benefits you bring to the client.
This approach to prospecting is simple yet effective. It makes you focus on yourself so you can sell your services and product with greater skill.
To adopt this process, consider the following questions:
- Where is your market located geographically? Define your territory within boundaries. Stay within your boundaries so your prospecting model is specific and organised.
- What is it that you sell? For example, if you sell something like ‘surveyors equipment’, what specific equipment is it? Who would be attracted to that equipment? Drill down on the prospective buyers into groups such as mining surveyors, council planning surveyors, road surveyors. When you do this you have the start of a focused prospecting model.
- With your specific groups, why would they use your surveyor’s product and how would they use it? What benefit would they get from it?
From these simple questions you can refine your prospecting process and your dialogue. No longer is your cold calling a sales pitch; it becomes centred on a very specific question and conversation. Here is an example:
- ‘Good morning Mr Brown, it’s Peter Smith from Acme Surveyors. Maybe you can help me out for a moment. I’m just calling to see if you are struggling with your survey equipment in road planning, perhaps due to the lack of the latest geotechnical updates. Is this an issue for you?’
This is the start of a very deep and relevant conversation. Notice that the call entry point is all about the client and not much about you. Expect the client to ‘push back’ a few times in conversation; most customers hate to be ‘sold’, and that is why you should not pitch. You can do more with a conversation in a cold call than you can with a one-sided ‘sales pitch’.
The benefit of this entry statement is that it opens up into information that you can work with. Keep the conversations moving forward by talking about the client and what they are doing today. Avoid talking too much about your offering. Ask more questions to see what the client is doing and how they are doing it.
The primary target in making the call is to see if the customer or prospect has a need or an interest. Beyond that point you should set up a meeting. Do not pitch your services across the telephone, but ask for a meeting to show the client more information that may be helpful.
It is not hard to win new business; it is just a process. Align yourself to the process and more opportunity will come your way.
In business today, the humble telephone remains the most effective way to grow your business. The telephone allows you to make cold calls and find more clients to connect to; you can do all of this from the comfort of your desk. That being said, many salespeople will avoid the cold calling process at any and every opportunity.
So why do so many people have a problem with calls to new prospective clients? Here are some reasons that are common in most industries today.
- Lack of organisation
- No idea of how to make the process work
- Failure to develop a habit of making calls every day
- Call reluctance
- Not knowing of what to say
So the list will go on and on. The opportunity that exists here is massive; a good salesperson that can establish an effective call contact process in their market can create massive new business opportunity. That can then mean better salary or commission depending on how you get paid for results.
So what is the secret to progress here? The secret to making prospecting and cold calling work for you is to get started today and keep it going. Do not stop prospecting for any reason; every day you should be prospecting for new clients for at least 2 hours. This single fact will keep the business coming in and your pipeline growing.
If your industry is tough or slow, go back to the basics and get out amongst your clients and potential targets. Make prospecting the number one thing that you do every day. Quite soon you will see things change around for the positive and when that happens do not stop what you are doing, but lift your efforts even higher. Top salespeople know that everything comes down to them and what they do every day.
Many salespeople struggle with the cold calling concept and process. Most salespeople never do it for very long simply because they really can’t get started. Their mindset holds them back from ever gaining momentum.
Making lots of cold calls is easy once you get started and many top salespeople know that. They understand that the process creates lots of opportunity. If you work on a commission based salary, you cannot overlook the cold calling process as part of your business model.
One Real Tip
One easy tip to develop and use as part of your cold calling process is to stand up as you make the calls. This one simple fact helps you converse, improve your thinking in the conversation, and helps your tonal voice as you talk. You actually convert more people to your requirement for meetings or sales.
So if you are struggling to get the calling process up and running as part of your business model, this single factor can help you greatly. Here are a few more tips to use as you get your calling model up and running.
- Make the calls at the same time each day so you develop a habit
- Get a good database software program that you can use as part of building your call momentum
- Many customers will take 3 or 4 telephone conversations before they will let you have a meeting with them
- Progressively work through your market on a logical basis
- Look for the competitors clients that you can feed into your contact calls.
- Treat the call process as a conversation and not a pitch.
- Build trust and relevance in the conversation by practicing your approach and key questions.
You can make the cold calling process more effective by sending a letter to those hard to reach business leaders that hide behind receptionists and gatekeepers.
Decide to make your business and income ‘fly’ higher than ever before. Take steps to improve your cold calling processes and start today.
So many salespeople struggle with growing market share. The single reason for this is that they have little or no personal system to build their business. Every day is a new day, and nothing consistently happens to build on the success of yesterday.
Perhaps I have upset some salespeople in saying that, however it is a proven fact that the performance of most sales teams is low for this very reason.
In any business and market there are also some other excuses that hold teams back. Some of them are here:
- No support from the management team
- No leadership to correct faults or lacking processes
- No standards that can focus the prospecting and customer service processes.
- Little action to a system that works in their market
- Forgetting the clients and keeping in contact with them over time
So, all of this is a personal process; that’s the reality of it all. Any salesperson can improve their ‘lot’ by taking action. Given that most do not do the right things every day, there is huge potential out there for those that do.
If a salesperson takes on the personal challenges of their industry and takes action every day to a good plan, there is a very good chance that they will rise to the top of their market quickly and effectively.
Here are some tips for getting control of your market and market share.
- Define your territory geographically and physically so you know where you will find the business.
- See how many potential clients could be in your areas that are serviced by your competitors. Can you open the door with these clients?
- Be prepared to talk to many people to find the one opportunity. As long as your market is large enough that will not be a problem. The issue is in getting the right resources and research around you.
- Use a database that is comprehensive and easy to access. Over time you can build your database by 4 or 5 new people a day. Keep in regular contact so you can open up the relationship when the prospect requires help.
Are you the best service provider in your local area? Can you say that your product or service is as good if not better than the competition? If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to these questions yet, you have some work to do. Devise your business system and work to it every day.