Where shall we start?
Lets start by recognising that the person, prospect, decision maker, whatever you want to call him, the person you are about to speak to, is not sitting there on his backside doing nothing, just waiting for someone to call.
Can we just assume he is a he, it's not sexist but simply a fact that that most prospects I talk to are male not female. That's my world.
So what's he doing? He is busy, he is extremely busy, he is working. He is not expecting to speak to me, he doesn't want to speak to me, so the first thing for me to think about is how I am going to generate interest for him to stop what he is doing and see the value of talking to me now.
There's no point in me saying 'how are you today?' especially if I've never spoken to him before, there's no point in me spending 30 seconds on an introduction that is all about me and my business, as he probably isn't going to be listening anyway after the first 5 to 10 seconds. There's no point in me asking if he has time to talk now, of course he hasn't he is busy. There's no point in me explaining that I'm his new account manager - so what!
So I need to quite quickly explain why I am calling, the reason for my call, why I believe he should be interested in what I've got to say, and what he will get out of talking to me now. I need a strong opening, I like to explain the reasons my clients choose me, and the frustrations or challenges I solve for them. The likelihood is that this prospect has the same challenges and frustrations, so he is more likely to be interested in how I have done this.
If after our short opening I want to get him to start talking to me, then we have an engagement that I want to develop into a conversation. I want a conversation, I want to find out about him and his business in relation to the products and services I represent. I want to discuss how we have helped similar clients in similar situations. He will only give me time to talk to me if he is interested.
Before we go any further, lets remember the purpose of my call. Is it to sell him something? In my world, the objective of my call is to qualify that he has the type of problem I can solve, then to generate interest so that he see's me as someone who he should be talking to. My objective of the call is to get him to want to meet with me. To WANT to meet with me.
He will only want to meet with me if he see's the benefit, what is he going to get out of the meeting, is it worth his while his time. If the answer is Yes, then it will be a natural conclusion to this call that we should be meeting to explore theses ideas further.
Be strong, the objective of the call is to arrange to meet, so ask him when we can meet. He may have questions that need answering before deciding to meet. I love objections, they give me the chance to understand why the question is being asked in the first place as there is always a reason behind an objection. I have techniques to enable me to handle these objections and then to reinforce why we should be meeting. Ask when we can meet.
Does every call I make end in success? No of course not, I wish they did but they don't. However, am I more successful as I have a solid structure to use? Am I confident in my approach, and do I have more professional business like conversations with prospects than I otherwise would have. I believe the answer is a very big YES.
The art of making solid structured outbound telephone prospecting is not dead as some would have us think. I believe it is a skill ALL business to business salespeople should have.
Some salespeople I know who have been in sales for years have lost this skill. It's actually confidence they have lost, as making cold calls can be painful when done poorly, we don't like hearing NO all the time.
A problem that we all face when making outbound telephone calls is that we do not have much TIME, we need to earn the right to carry on the call, otherwise our prospect will find a good reason to say 'No Thanks' and close the call. It is easy to hang up if you are the prospect. My view, if you are getting a high number of calls terminated early, then you are not generating any interest, or you perhaps sound like all the rest of the cold calls the prospect is getting every day.
So we need to be strong, confident and better than the rest, and have a solid sales structure to work with.
How do I get that I hear you ask? That's easy, talk to meta-morphose NOW, it's what we help our clients salespeople to do every day of their working life.
(And we haven't even started talking about gate keepers! That's for another time)
This blog has been written by a salesperson that is dedicated to his art and after many years of slog now helps others to become more successful, more quickly, through some damn good telephone sales training.