7 Steps to Successful Telephone Prospecting
"The problem with my salespeople is theyíre not prospecting enough!" Thatís the concern I hear most often from marketing managers and business executives when I speak at conventions on how to boost sales. Yet when I examine their prospecting ald lead finding strategies, I generally find theyíre ill conceived.
Decision-makers in most organizations soon grow weary of the large number of salespeople phoning them. So if youíre not well trained when you call or prospect on the phone, I guarantee that youíll get slapped with a lot of rejection.
On the other hand, when youíre professionally trained, calling is easy and tremendously profitable. Here are 7 steps to boost your telephone prospecting success.
1. Create a targeted telephone list
Have the list of people youíre going to contact within easy access so that you can make several calls without stopping. You can create your list through trade association directories, chambers of commerce and even your local library. You can also purchase lists from private companies listed under "mailing lists" in the yellow pages. The best list is the referrals you obtain from current clients and lists from your marketing plan's target markets and clients.
Itís also a good idea to have a contact management system to keep track of your calls and when youíll follow-up.
2. Set a goal and script your call.
Be clear about what the goal is for your call; be it to set up a meeting, send literature, or whatever. Then write a script to achieve that goal. Thatís not to suggest that youíll recite the entire conversation, just the first few key statements. Though this may seem artificial, most successful salespeople use a script to ensure that they consistently have a strong impact. On the telephone you donít have time to make mistakes. Every word counts, so you must be prepared.
3. Locate the decision-maker.
In some cases, the decision-maker is not necessarily the person who does the buying. The organization may have a separate purchasing department for that purpose. So ask the switchboard operator or the receptionist to speak with, "The person who makes the decision regarding."
When attempting to contact the key person, avoid leaving voice mail messages the first two times you call. Unfortunately, itís relatively rare that people who have buying authority return unsolicited sales calls. If, after the third attempt, you still canít reach them, then leave a voice mail message. But make sure youíve scripted a powerful message that has a compelling reason for them to return your call. Thatís another reason why itís important to prepare a script in advance
4. Introduce yourself and get to the point
Do not ask a stranger on the telephone, "How are you, today?" They realize that you donít know them and you really donít care how they are. So they think youíre wasting their time. Donít fake familiarity.
Hereís how your conversation with the decision maker might begin: "Hello, Mary. We havenít met yet. My name is Clare Ross with ABC Design/Build Company. I wonder if you might help me. The reason Iím calling is that I understand that youíre the person whoís in charge of your building program. Is that true or has someone been spreading a rumor?"
5. Give a benefit statement.
This is a clear, simple statement that indicates what the benefit might be of them doing business with you. For example, "The reason Iím calling is to find out if we might be able to improve the speed and quality of your construction and significantly reduce its cost."
At this point youíve said enough. Itís time for the other person to get some control. So, follow that benefit statement with, "Do you have a moment to talk?" If they do, then go on to the next step. If they donít, then ask when would be a good time to call them back and then follow-up accordingly.
6. Give a brief specific case history.
Hereís how this might sound, "I want to make sure our businesses could be a match, so Iíll you an example of what we
do, and you can tell me whether there might be a fit. Fair enough? We did a turnkey project for the XYZ Hotel company and were able to help them open in time for a key convention by shaving three months off the construction time. The result was they increased occupance to record levels and room rates by thirty percent. That created approximately $500,000 in additional revenues and high occupancies remained for the balance of their season."
The more specific you can be in your case history, the more compelling your proposal will be. So, give actual numbers and percentages if possible.
7. Accomplish your goal.
If your goal is to set up a meeting, suggest to the person, "Perhaps we can sit down together and (give them a general idea of what youíll do in the meeting)."
Keep in mind that some prospects are so leery of telephone solicitors, that they have to be completely sold on the phone before theyíll agree to see you in-person. So you need to know how to probe, summarize, make an emotional connection, ask for the order, and deal with objections -- all the aspects of selling- before you start telephone prospecting.
Training is the Key
Telephone prospecting doesnít have to be a demoralizing knuckle-biting activity. It can, in fact, be motivating and extremely profitable - providing you have the right training.
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