If your target market is small, medium or large size businesses, whether you are selling consulting services or computers, the telephone can be one of your most valuable assets – or a dreaded device.
That’s because the phone is often your first contact with a decision making “C” level executive (CEO, CFO, CIO etc) and that initial contact will determine whether or not you set an appointment to meet, and possibly begin, a mutually rewarding business relationship.
Many salespeople fall into a submissive role on the phone to a “C” level prospect. They use phrases like, “I know you’re busy”, “I’m sorry to bother you” and “This won’t take long”. To start this way doesn’t create an immediate impression of worth and importance.
If you do get permission to continue, you might proceed by rattling off who you are, what you do and what you can do for the prospect without taking a moment to breathe, let alone ask any questions.
You assume, and hope, that something you say will trigger a need to see you so that you can ultimately supply your product or service.
In the vast majority of cases, what this approach only achieves is to put the prospect on the defensive and will typically evoke the programmed “please send some literature” response which is designed to get rid of you….quickly, painlessly and for good.
In reality, “C” level executives are often the easiest people to talk to – if you approach the call in the right way. That’s because they are typically “big picture” thinkers who are concerned with the entire company or a large portion of it.
That’s very different from those several levels down, whose only concerns are their particular area. If you offer a potential solution to a “C” level prospect, he or she is usually apt to listen, and will usually point you in the right direction within the organisation…..possibly with a personal introduction and an invitation to make contact at a later stage.
It is important before placing the call that you consider the purpose of the call. Begin the conversation something like, “I appreciate you taking my call. I’m Phil Lee and my company Sandler Sales Institute has helped companies similar to yours increase revenues.
I’m not assuming you need our help and we may not be a fit for you but the purpose of my call is to have a brief conversation to exchange information so we can determine whether or not we can be a resource for you. Is that fair?”
Nine out of ten prospects will agree that it is fair, which lowers the defensive shield and gives you permission to begin the most critical part of the sales process……asking the right questions that will establish your credibility and uncover the prospects potential “pains” and challenges.
By asking the right questions you communicate that you understand their world. These questions might have to do with reaching sales targets, high staff turnover rates, the cost to the business of equipment downtime or the cost of sticking with outdated systems etc.
The essential goal is to communicate that you are more concerned with them and their potential business problems than you are with just making a sale.
Through your questions and your attitude, you must express that you are OK if you and the prospect are not a fit, an attitude that will help you be seen, even at this early stage of the selling cycle, as a potential valued advisor.
You’ll find you will soon make more sales and have more control over the selling process.How has cold calling worked for your business? Come join the gang for a chat on the KBB Facebook Forum!