Call, calling and calling again
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” ~Babe Ruth
Many sales professionals probably wonder if they’re being annoying or why they’re not getting a call returned. They go so far as dreaming up tricks and innovative attention getting antics that fall flat. So how much is too much?
I don’t think there is a clear cut answer, yet I know statistically, 85% of all sales reps give up after the first call … yet most opportunity happens after the 5th call! I’ve often had to internalize my approach and ask myself what I am doing and if I were sitting on the other side of your voicemail, email or written letter, what would prompt me to respond. I know that if it isn’t working, I need change it up and try some new approaches:
- Understand the value you and your organization will bring — how you can you solve problems, eliminate headaches, increase revenue, improve profits?
- Provide proof: A tempting nugget on how you do what you claim? Who else have you done it for?
- Be explicit about why you are calling or why they should call you back
- The higher you call, the more compelling their reason to call you back should be
- Script Option: I appreciate how busy you are … I will call back at such a such time (the earlier the morning the better)
- Script Option: If I am calling you and you are not the appropriate person I should be speaking to, I would appreciate if (i.e. your assistant) or you get back to me with the appropriate person’s name (I’ve done this, and then it looks like you’ve been referred top-down)
- ALWAYS have a reason for your call and a reason WHY they should talk to you
- Research: The best time to call a prospect is between 8:30-10:30 a.m. yet most people believe it is just after lunch (which is the worst time)
- Research: The best day of the week to call someone is a Thursday
- If I were to leave you a message saying I’m calling about life insurance (no, I don’t sell that …. but who doesn’t get a lot of those calls?) … you’d automatically delete me …………. but if I were to call you to say I have important ideas on succession planning that have proven successful with other executives like you (specific name dropping is always better) … would you take that call instead?
If you examine your “pitch” you have to be honest with yourself. Are you saying the exact same thing as anyone else creating noise in your prospect’s mind: I’m better, provide quality, solve the ultimate problems, save money, have deals, better act now, etc. etc. etc.
You have to develop strong relationships with key decision makers. If you do, they will want to help you succeed because you’ve helped them in some way. Go ahead and ask them how many calls they get and which ones they answer and why?
Many times you will discover that they get a ton of calls/e-mails a day so they all start to sound the same. Yet disciplined decision makers also realize that they can gain the best information from their trusted circle or go to people who will help them solve a problem. They hardly want to pass up an opportunity to learn ways to save money, save time, ease pressure, solve problems. If you can “hit” that note in your voicemail or message, you may be more likely to connect.
Here are some ideas to give you incentive to keep plugging:
- Remember, they’re busy. Yes, many are intentionally ignoring you. Many more are simply too busy to answer every call/e-mail they get.
- Remember the executive assistant. They often are an extension and typically know what hot buttons their boss may react to. They DO have the power to slam the door, open it up, inform you who may be better suited to address your offer, and schedule appointments.
- Keep in mind, that many decision makers become cynical after dealing with sales people who over promise and under deliver
- Try sending a introductory letter so that you can carefully lay out what it is you are offering, how you’ve helped others, and when you will call to set up an appointment to share your ideas in depth. Who gets real mail these days that aren’t glossy and scream junk mail anymore?
- Be persistent but classy: they’re counting on you to give up after the first or second call
Go beyond standard information gathering and persevere by asking more meaty questions:
- Can this person I converse with sign a cheque or contract?
- If not, then who is the decision maker for your services?
- Who can influence the decision maker on your behalf?
- Who are the end users?
- Are their any holes that you can fill that can give you a toe in the door?
- What outside factors influence that decision — a current contract, established partner, relative who is a vendor or service provider?
- What is greasing the wheels of commerce — sports or concert tickets? Wining and dining? Promotional products?
- Do they have a purchasing policy or process that you must follow?
- Are their specific channels that you should go through?
Most professionals who enter the field of sales tend to be more uncomfortable calling on an executive than they are an administrative person. Many try to snow their managers and executives that have a conversation with just about anyone is a contact. The truly successful sales professionals know most of this information and more:
- Who their customers are — what challenges are they facing to serve their own customers?
- What is impacting their industry — government regulations, ongoing changes, outside influences?
- The history of their purchasing decisions: who, why and what criteria did they use to establish a relationship with a vendor?
- What knowledge do they need at the table: being technical is not always the key, asking great questions often leads to better opportunities.
If you are faced with driving revenue into your organization, it means that you are in the sales game. Take pride in understanding what drives customers to your doorstep and what you can do to ensure they stay. Everyone has a part and a place — it starts with recognizing that it takes a lot less time and resources to keep a customer happy than it does to find a new one.
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” ~ John D. Rockefeller
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