Uncovering new opportunities and potential new business is an essential task of any sales team. However, it is probably one of the most unpopular activities. The main reason for this is that professional salespeople, just like the rest of us, fear rejection.
The reality is though – if we have confidence in our products, solutions and services, we owe it to ourselves and to our company to tell as many people as possible. I have always taken the view that if a prospective client rejects my proposal, then they have lost out on dramatically improving their business. A positive and confident mind-set is essential for successful telemarketing and cold calling.
So what are the rules?
Plan & Prepare
Make sure that you are prepared for the call:
- Have all the relevant documentation to hand
- Prepare a ‘script’ including everything you wish to ask. Use bullet points, not sentences
- Familiarize yourself with the “script” – practice, write down your agenda and be direct
- Keep the opening of the conversation simple, but say something interesting – try using a prime desire statement to “grab” their interest so they’ll want to hear more
- Explain why you are calling
- Question. Use a variety of questioning techniques – i.e. Open, Reflective, Direct, Hypothetical, Exploratory, etc.
Set Yourself Goals and Clear Objectives (Primary & Secondary)
Consider – what is the purpose of the telephone call? (Aim high, but realistic)
- Is it to inform?
- To establish a need?
- To obtain an appointment?
Never attempt to sell your product or services over the phone (unless you are in a telesales role).
Never make a statement you cannot back up.
Remember to discipline yourself – don’t be deflected.
Ensure That You Have The Right Information
Never assume that the information you have is correct:
- Confirm you are talking to the right person
- Confirm they have the authority and not just the title
- Know the industry they operate in
- Who else have you helped in that industry?
- Tell them
Reaching the Decision Maker
Don’t attempt to establish who the decision maker is and then talk to them in one phone call – if you don’t know who to speak to, then that is a call in its own right.
Set yourself a target – say four attempts – to get through to the decision maker. If you still are unable to reach him, try a different approach.
When to call – If you keep a call log of all your calls, you’ll soon get to know which are the most productive times to reach the decision maker (e.g. traditionally, Monday morning is a poor time to cold call).
Human Barriers – The higher up the organisation you go, then the higher and wider the barriers seem to become with receptionists, secretaries and personal assistants all seemingly having no other purpose than to stop you getting through to the decision maker.
Try outside the normal office hours – you will avoid the receptionist and may get straight through! Security staff are often a good source for information and they are usually more than willing to show off their knowledge about the company – they also have the time to talk!
As a last resort, send a letter first explaining that you will be calling – therefore the receptionist is “expecting your next call”.
Close With A Commitment – Keep That Commitment
If the commitment is to an appointment then always confirm in writing, but
- Be Brisk
- Be Polite
- Be Immediate
Some General Tips for Successful Telephone Communication
- Always dial the number yourself
- Ask for the contact by name – i.e. “Mr. Smith” please
- If speaking to his/her secretary, you may use the contact’s first name as well
- If asked who is calling, use your full name
- If asked the name of your company, don’t be afraid to give it
- If asked why you are calling, tell them
- If they are not available, say you will call back and ask the most convenient time to do that
- If they are on another call, do not stay on the line
Telephone Qualification Process
The following is a list of areas you need to incorporate into your ‘script’ with some suggestions as to how you may find out the answers. However, the secret to good telephone communication is to make it yours – i.e. your language, your terminology. That way, you will feel confident – and this will be apparent to the person you are calling.
Responsibility/DMU (Decision Making Unit):
- Who should I be talking to regarding the purchase of?
- Who else would be involved in such a decision?
- When do you believe a budget will be made available for such a purchase/project this year?
- What do you envisage that budget to be (i.e. is it realistic)
- Is the budget dependent upon anything?
- When is this purchase required to be completed by?
- Is there a particular reason for this timescale? (Are they realistic?)
- Who else are you talking to?
- How did you choose them?
- What are you hoping to achieve? (Is it within our capabilities?)
- I feel I understand what is required and that we can help, I’d like to discuss your requirements further, face to face. Would Thursday or Friday next week be suitable?
Some Rules for You to Remember
- Always smile – It projects a warm personality, which is non-threatening
- Always be enthusiastic – It’s infectious
- Stand up for the important call – You will sound more decisive, more authoritative and it expands the diaphragm
- Always plan your call. Be prepared – know the reaction you are aiming for