At the early stages of connecting with a customer, make sure that you are dealing with or talking with a decision maker. So many prospects like to think that they are the decision maker when it comes to ‘buying’, but in reality there is a head office or board of directors somewhere that will make the final move on any recommendations.
So how do you get around this? Through ‘selective questions’ you will get the facts; that is the right answer in most meeting and prospecting situations. You can usually ‘read between the lines’ when it comes to the responses that you get.
In saying this, be aware that some prospects are ‘doorways’ to the top people or decision makers. You may only have that ‘doorway’ to use in reaching into a business for a sale or order.
So what can you do here? Set some rules like the following:
- Research the business or the customer on the internet and in any other way possible before you start to approach them.
- Find someone in ‘management’ that can give you relevant facts about the business and the people.
- Get to meetings as much as possible as the personal approach allows you to read and interpret the body language as well as the words spoken.
- Find out what they are doing today and if any of your competitors are active with the prospect. If so, respect the relationship and find out how it works.
- Understand the ‘lead times’ to requirements and if any ‘pain points’ exist when it comes to the business or the prospect using your products or services. Can you save them any money? Can you make their business more productive?
- Practice your dialogue for prospecting and in attending meetings. The practice process will help you lift your conversions.
- Understand that all prospects and customers have pressures and challenges. Speak to enough prospects in the market and you will find that you can ‘open more doors’ on future sales.
Sales and customer service today will always have challenges, but the reality is that the challenges have always been there. Focus on the value that you bring to the market and the sales that you make will escalate.
In looking at a prospecting model, you should consider prospecting as a marathon and not a sprint. It is something that you do every day and consistency matters more than speed.
To build the right prospecting model for you consider the following questions:
- Where is your market located? You will need to focus in a region to connect with the right people.
- What does a prospect look like? What are the attributes of a prospect that help you choose the right connections to make? Clarity is required.
- What will you do every day as part of personal prospecting for new clients? How will you get the process under way?
- What will you say to prospects and new people when you connect with them for the first time? Why should they listen to you? Simple dialogue development will help you with the connection. The conversation that you create should be about the person you are talking to and not what you’re offering. Questions should form the core of your approach to new clients and contacts.
- Why should the person meet with you? The best canvassing calls focus on the opportunity of a meeting. Your call should be focused on just one thing; to create a meeting where you can connect with the person and get better information. Most new business will come from the trust you can create and the relationship establishment that will be built over time.
- What service or product will be at the centre of the prospecting effort? You cannot confuse the process with too many ideas or statements. When you understand what people need from you, the conversations you create should centre on that topic and requirement.
- What prospecting process will be at the core of your contact and database model? It pays to only use one prospecting system so you can improve in the method and practice what you do.
- When will you start the process and how often will you do it? Regularity is the key to getting results in networking and prospecting.
As you can see, clarity is required to take your prospecting efforts to the market and your location. It is not a random process.
One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make in canvassing and networking is in doing too many things and not focusing down on just a few. When you focus you can track and improve the results that you are getting. Practice and self-improvement are key attributes of a good prospecting model.
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 any industry and in any economy the cold call process and telephone can be your fast track to more sales and customer contact. It is a simple fact that the process of telephone prospecting will bring you more leads and market information.
So the Sales Manager tells you that you need to prospect more. He (or she) starts to focus on you and your efforts. Each night you are told to email them your call results. The sad thing is that many sales managers do not help you with the mindset behind the call process. If you can shape your thinking, the whole process is far more productive and the momentum is a lot easier.
Here are some facts for you that are likely to help your cold call and telephone prospecting processes:
- How you think has a major impact on your progress and results. In most cases the calls that you make should be to see if the other person has a need or an interest. When you really understand that fact, the efforts you make in the calls become more connecting and real.
- Base the connection you make with prospects on a conversation. Ask questions, and do not pitch. When the conversation moves forward, you can see where a meeting or more information may be helpful.
- It is OK if the person says ‘No’ to your offering. It is very easy to move on to others that may have an interest. Stop pitching your services in the call, and your connections will be more productive.
- Track your call ratios so you know when things are improving from a given set of outbound calls. Track calls out, connections made, and meetings created. Keep your call numbers up.
- You must be systemised as you contact people. Use standard forms and a database for capturing the right people. As a general rule do not enter unqualified people into your database. The only people or prospects that reach the database are those that have some relevance or interest.
- In most cases it takes about 4 telephone calls to the same person for them to allow you to set up a meeting. Spread those calls across a 3 month time frame. Eventually you should get a meeting.
- As a last resort in any call, be prepared to send out information to the people that ask for it. That being said, most contact calls are designed to generate a meeting first and foremost.
- A lot has been said about sales dialogues and telephone pitches. The reality of the situation is that the call you make and the words that you use should be in your words and conversational tone. If you try to use phrases and words that you are not comfortable with, the prospect will hear that discomfort. To get around this problem you can practice your script each morning so your conversation starts to flow.
If your market is a bit of a challenge right now, consider the prospecting processes that you currently use. Start some practice and shift your thinking as you do that. Remember that you are a sales specialist and you have valuable products and services that your market needs. Make more calls and improve your skills and focus in the process.
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.