No one will buy from you if they do not know of you, your company/products/services. Every sale has its own cycle. Depending on what you are selling, it could be a short cycle of a day or two, or it could be a long cycle of a year or two. Your call is your introduction and the start of your entire sales process. Without that initial prospecting call, you will not close any sales.
Make a lot of telephone calls
If you have only one prospect to pursue, that prospect becomes overwhelmingly important. If you have hundreds of leads, no one prospect can make or break you. The more calls you make, the more success you will have. Schedule time in your calendar, every day, to prospect. Successful prospecting is not about having one perfect conversation with one prospect, it is about having many conversations with many prospects and filling your sales funnel so that you never want for opportunities.
Target your market
Out of every one in the entire world who might possibly buy what you are selling, who is most likely to buy? Start by profiling your best customers. By "best" I mean who buys the most and the most often? You are looking for prospects who match that profile. They are more likely to need and want what you are selling. Those are the prospects you should call first. The more targeted your calling list, the more successful your calls will be and the better it will be for your bottom line. Spend your time calling prospects who will potentially give you the most return for your investment of time.
Understand why customers buy from you
Every prospect is thinking: “What’s in it for me? Why should I be interested in speaking with you? What are you offering that will help me, my business, my bottom line, my employees…?” Ask yourself: What is the value that you offer? What is the benefit that your customers receive from doing business with you? When making your prospecting calls, make sure to lead with the benefit and/or value. This will answer your prospects’ “What’s in it for me?” question. It will certainly set you apart from the crowd, as most prospectors don’t do this. It will also catch your prospects’ attention and give you the opportunity to have real conversations.
Always call the highest-level person that you believe is the decision-maker. That person will either be the decision-maker or they will know who is and they can point you in the right direction. Too many prospectors make the mistake of going in too low (the low-hanging fruit syndrome). They call managers rather than directors, administrators rather than owners, believing that the call will be easier. It won’t. What will actually happen is that your sales cycle will lengthen and/or implode because you will not be speaking with someone who can make a decision. You will spend months courting someone who will then turn around and say, “I need to ask my boss.” If they come back with the answer, “My boss didn’t like it,” you are dead in the water. Bottom line: If you are not speaking with the decision-maker, you are not speaking with a qualified prospect.
Know the goal of your conversation
The questions you want to ask yourself are: When I hang up the telephone what do I want to have accomplished? What agreement do I want from my prospect today? For example: If you are making calls to set an appointment, then the goal of your call is the appointment. It is not to close the sale. That, of course, is your ultimate goal, but it comes much later in the process. Very few sales are accomplished in one phone call. Make your call with your goal in mind. Say enough to accomplish that goal and save everything else for later conversations. Then repeat the process.
Ask for what you want
The biggest mistake that I see time and time again is that prospectors do not ask for what they want. Once you know the goal of your conversation, (see #5 above) decide exactly how you are going to ask for that goal. Create a script so that you can clearly and succinctly ask. Your prospect will not read your mind, guess or offer. You must ask. I have seen clients double and triple their results simply from starting to consistently, in every single phone call, ask for what they want.
This is not life or death—it’s only a cold call. The fate of the world does not rest on you and your telephone. You will not destroy your company or ruin your life if a prospect says “no.” Loosen up, be creative, have some fun!