No matter what business you’re in, you have to make sales. And whether you have the Midas touch or break out in a cold sweat at the thought of making that first sales call, there are techniques you can use to be more productive and successful when making that first point of contact. Here are some tips:
Preparation is a key aspect of the process and that means getting yourself in the right mindset. Sometimes taking a walk is a great way to clear your head so you can focus on what’s most important. Bring a notebook so you can jot down any thoughts that occur to you. Other people might want to sit quietly or meditate – use whatever technique which takes you to that calm space where ideas start to flow.
Next, find out as much as you can about your prospects. That’s because the best sales calls are individually tailored to what people need. Think about it, don’t you hate those telesales conversations where it’s obvious that the caller is reading from a script? Aren’t you much more likely to buy from someone who treats you like a person? It’s the same for your prospects.
For each prospect, start by Googling the company to get some key details about its size and niche, then research the person you’ll be talking to to find out that person’s background. LinkedIn is a valuable tool to use for this, as it has an excellent search feature. You can also gauge people’s interests by the groups they participate in.
Go back to Google and check out your prospect’s social media profiles, too.
Finish up your research by using a contact management tool to put all of the info in one place so you have a well rounded picture of the person you will be talking to.
Now that you understand your prospect a bit more, it’s easy to figure out what information you need to provide. Think about three to five points that show how your product or service can be of value to them and help to solve their problems. Your experience with other prospects in the same niche will help with this. You can also check out LinkedIn groups to see if there are common issues your product or services can resolve. Think about the questions prospects may ask so you can prepare for these in advance.
Another early consideration is how you will position yourself. This may depend on the size of your business. For instance, if you’re representing a large company, then use the personal touch to avoid appearing anonymous and faceless. The social media research you have done will help you find a point of connection, like interest in a sport or a particular activity. If you’re a small company, then it’s good to emphasise your ability to get the job done.
In this data driven world, some companies want the solidity of a large company handling their data. But there are cases where small is beautiful. For example, if you’re contracting out writing services, you may prefer to deal with a skilled professional writer rather than an agency so you will know the person you’re working with.
Identify your best positioning upfront so you can target the call appropriately.
For most endeavours, practice makes perfect. Sales calls are no exception. One option is to use a photo of the person you will be talking to (or their social media avatar) so you can run through what you want to say on the call as if you’re in the same room. Even better, record the run-through so you can hear exactly how you sound. If you’re happy with the playback, you’re ready to go. If not, try again.
Ever heard that you should smile and dial? It may sound silly, but it works. People on the other end of the phone hear the extra warmth in your voice and that encourages them to form a mental connection with you.
We’re all busy and no-one wants to waste time, so avoid meandering calls that annoy your prospects. All the preparation you’ve done should help you deliver your message accurately and efficiently while keeping it succinct and tailored.
Having said that, it’s rare to make a sale within a minute. You often need to persuade prospects that you are the right fit for them. That’s another reason to do up-front research so you can be ready for objections and solve the issues they have.
Listening is an important part of your sales productivity arsenal. While there are times to take charge of the conversation, at other times it pays to listen. That’s the only way to figure out whether prospects have a true objection or whether you just need to clarify a minor point. Knowing the difference will improve your sales success rate. And even if you don’t close the sale this time, you may learn something that will help you with the next prospect.
No matter how prepared you are, sometimes a prospect asks a question you haven’t prepared for. Don’t worry about it; just commit to go back to your team, figure out a solution and get back to the customer. Do this before they have time to forget about you.
Even if there are no questions, send a follow-up email. Avoid using a template for this. Instead, use what you learned on the call to send a personalised summary of what you discussed. This gives your prospect something tangible to share with the people s/he reports to and keeps the conversation going.
The tips above will help you be more productive on most sales calls, resulting in more revenue for your company. And here’s one final tip: even if you realise during the call that you are not the right fit for the person you are talking to, don’t end the call abruptly. Even mismatched prospects can provide useful introductions to people who will help boost your sales figures!