As I have said in my previous blogs, if you are a professional sales person you should be making cold calls every day. I don’t care if you have been in the business for 1 day or 30 years; if you are a professional you should always be prospecting-and that requires cold calling. Making warm calls is very beneficial as it brings you close to people you already know or people you have been introduced to. But if you are a pro you have to practice your selling skills every day and nothing is better for that than cold calling. (Ask any sports professional how often they practice and they will each tell you they practice every day. They practice their skill set everyday because they know if they don’t, someone else will be and they will soon lose their edge.) And, you have to expand your universe of potential buyers past your base customers because, believe it or not, your current universe is on the way to retirement or dying.
Alright, let’s say that you have bought into my premise (if you have not, go a week without cold calling and tell me how hard it is to get back into the swing of things). You have just made your first cold call for the day. You prepared for the call by reading up about both the company and the person you are calling just before you picked up the phone. You have no food in your mouth and no distractions. And you made your call and you got all the way to the ever present and evil "Gate Keeper". Ever polite, the gate keeper told you that your target would call you back as soon as time was available. While probably truthful, time won’t be available until the Cubs win the World Series. It just is not going to happen, and if it does happen you won’t know what to do because you will be in shock.
So, what should you do to insure you get the appointment AFTER that initial call?
1. Keep good notes. What was the name of the gate keeper? When you spoke with the gate keeper what did you learn about the gate keeper’s background. How did you relate to the gate keeper? Will the decision maker be at any conventions that you will be attending? Did you get a specific call back time?
2. Set a time that you will call the prospect back. Regardless of what the prospect said to you, you should set a time to call back. I normally wait a week to call the client back, but never more than two weeks. They have an obligation to speak to you. It is their JOB. They are responsible to their company to constantly know what is going on in the marketplace. If you have an idea or product worth an hour of their time (and if you don’t you are working in the wrong place) then they have an obligation to speak with you. Waiting for the client to call you back is like waiting for paint to dry; it is fun for the first few moments but pretty soon the fumes will get to you.
3. Think about other ways to get in to see the customer. Your initial call is just that, initial. It is the first step in your quest to make the prospect's business life more successful. So, if for whatever reason the prospect does not call back, you still have an obligation to help them with your product. Who do you know that knows the prospect? What interesting articles about the prospect's company can you send? Where did the prospect go to school, and how can you relate to that? Be creative in this area. The competition that is PLOM (poor little old me) is spending their time complaining about the prospect not calling back. They are never going to be given the chance to help the prospect be more successful, but you will.
4. Make sure you know specifically why you can help the prospect with their business. There are only two reasons a business should take their time to spend with you. Either you can increase their sales or you can decrease their expense. If you want to sell them a product or service that you cannot relate to one of those two business problems you should stay at home. Be specific on the business problem you want to solve. At Axcelora, our premise is that we can increase sales by getting our clients to retail decision makers, thus increasing sales. We also believe we can lower costs by lowering travel and payroll expense on wasted trips to see people that are not decision makers. At your company you have to be just as specific. If you can’t then you are wasting the prospect's time.
5. Practice your presentation. You are going to get the meeting because you will get to chat with the prospect eventually. Our “Pleasantly Persistent” program will make sure of that at an 85% rate. So you should be practicing your presentation. Make sure your slides are simply points of reference not something for you to read from. Images with few words will work the best. Write down what you want to convey to the client during your presentation. Don’t just say it; write it down. This will make all of the difference in the world. Anticipate the questions the prospect is going to ask. Write those down. This is what professionals do. I have always said the answers are not the problem, the questions are the problem. Because if the questions are well enough defined, the answers become obvious.
6. Develop a list of additional prospects. To some extent, sales is a numbers game. That is, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. You have to talk to many people to make a sale. I have yet to find a successful salesperson that closes every sale. People that have a high percentage of opportunities that close often have a low sales amount.
So while you are waiting, work on your next group of prospects. Ask yourself some of the following questions: Where does the product have the most use? Who are the prospects that look most like my current list of clients? How can I group these by geography? What size company is my best prospect?
So now you know the six things you should do while waiting for the prospect to call back. If you get tired of waiting and want to get to the decision maker fast, and with a personal introduction, go to www.axcelora.com and learn how this unique company can speed your sales process.
Rich Hollander is a retail expert with over 40 years in the industry.