Prospecting is an important part of the sales process, as it helps develop the pipeline of potential customers available. Professional salespeople use the phone every day in some capacity. Those with remote selling roles are in an office on the phones, and those calling on companies in person use the phone to set appointments, hold conversations, confirm meetings, and ultimately bring business to a close through the telephone.
However, there has been a lot written about the status of sales prospecting and gaining access to decision-makers. Most comes under the banner of social/digital selling vs. cold calling. Why does it have to be one or the other? Why not both?
In fact, I believe it’s imperative to use an “all of the above” strategy that combines human-to-human (H2H), digital and social in a highly-coordinated fashion. I mean, how can you get one-on-one with your prospect without the use of the phone? In fact, complex technology solutions can only be delivered if there is a human touch to the sales process.
It’s agreed that the majority of the marketing and promotions are digital and online now and are quite effective but that doesn’t mean that offline strategy of cold calling or phone prospecting is completely dead. Those who say so haven’t tried using phones in a different manner rather than dialing a list of contacts.
The reason for the call must be based around providing the prospect with information or insight they will find of value. Don’t waste time on a briefing about yourself or your company’s profile in detail. Be short and precise. Save prospect’s time – that’s the key to earning respect and attention.
We at AMS, have wall posters with this sentence on our dialing floors.
Clearly, the tone is important to master. So when dealing with a customer over the phone, you really need to be smiling. Smiling while talking makes your voice warmer and friendlier because the vocal cords are pulled differently than when you are not smiling (a bit of Physiology in Marketing post). Physically smiling helps the voice smile as well.
Speak with energy and believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself and speak with confidence and energy, why should you expect the prospect to pay attention?
Sometimes, phone sales just take a little patience – and a whole lot of persistence. You can’t just call prospects once or twice, leave a couple of voicemails, and then move on. In fact, just because prospects might ignore one or two voicemails from you, that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in what you have to offer.
In reality, it could take seven to 10 voicemails before you get a response – even from a prospect who’s likely to be interested. Remember that Phone prospecting takes time.
Voicemails should never be longer than 15 seconds. Your ideal prospects are used to getting voicemails that sound stiff, serious, and quite frankly boring as well. By being a little tongue-in-cheek and having some fun with your voicemails, you’re more likely to stand out from the crowd and capture your prospect’s attention. That means you need to know ahead of time what you’re going to say.
So make sure you leave provocative voicemails to stimulate the interest in the prospects.
Typically, calls can go one of 3 ways — a gatekeeper answers, it rolls to voicemail or the prospect you want to reach answers. Each one requires a different type of response from you. Be prepared no matter which way it goes.
PS – Or a hung up – be prepared for every situation.
This is very important as your voice must be clearly audible to prospect and vice versa for a meaningful conversation to occur. If there’s any disturbance or turbulence due to poor headset then the talks will not be properly interpreted and that’d bring down the chances of business opportunity for you with the prospect.
Many prospects are best reached before 8 AM or after 5 PM. Also, experiment with different times to learn what types of prospects are most likely to respond at that time.
Be prepared to call the same prospect a number of times to finally be able to breakthrough. A strategy I like is 6 contacts in a month. If after a month I’m not successful, I will then back off for 60 to 90 days and then repeat the process.
Never leave the same voicemail twice and never call again at the same time of day or day of the week. You will increase your odds of reaching the person by trying different days and different times.
When you’re nearing the end of a prospecting phone call, don’t hang up the phone after making a vague reference to “following up soon.” This is the kiss of death for phone selling. Instead, schedule an exact date and time for your next phone call, and send your prospect an email calendar invite while you’re still on the phone together.
It’s easy to think the telephone isn’t effective and that using email or even social media is the way to go. The only reason people think that is because they are not willing to put in the effort and time to make telephone prospecting a part of their overall prospecting plan.
It’s time we stop thinking about using the phone as cold-calling. Instead, let’s think of the phone in a positive way — as a sales prospecting tool that allows us to connect personally with our buyers. Will every executive pick up the phone or be receptive to hearing about your solution? No way. But when you are friendly, professional and respectful in your calls, you leave a positive impression that no email will ever convey.
AMS can help you with better-qualified sales leads, higher conversion rates and more revenue per sales lead than is typically achieved by traditional business sales prospecting. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more about our B2B prospecting and Lead Generation services.
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