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The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 14, 2016 • Issue 16:11:01


Telephone prospecting: How good are you?

Let's assume you want to prospect by phone, and you've obtained a list of merchants likely to benefit from your products and services. The individuals on the list may be "warm" or "cold" leads. For example, they might be current customers whom you want to upgrade, or they could be prospects new to you.

A number of sales professionals pursue only warm leads, that is, those that have been warmed up by prior contact with you, colleagues or satisfied customers. Those prospects will already have a sense of who you are when you call. However, according to some sales trainers, avoiding cold calls is misguided.

It's a state of mind

"I continue to be baffled by those who cut off possibilities with a semantic twist," wrote Wendy Weiss on the Business Know-How website (www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/warm-call.htm). "Cold call, warm call; it's simply a state of mind. Your mind. Your prospect does not make those distinctions." She also noted that just because you think a contact is warm doesn't mean the contact agrees with you.

Weiss believes to be effective, you must:

  • Control your message
  • Be able to communicate effectively so that a prospect understands and resonates with what you have to say
  • Have the skill necessary to communicate with a prospect under any circumstance

So, how do you control the conversation and communicate well under any circumstance? In Good Selling!SM The Basics, Paul H. Green offered several ideas for breaking the ice after you identify yourself to a prospect. For example, you could say:

  • I've been assigned the responsibility of serving your account. I would like to take the opportunity to introduce myself and arrange an appointment to meet with you in person.
  • I recently received your name from my corporation printout of key accounts and am interested in learning more about your company (firm, store, etc.)
  • Are you presently using a (insert name of service or product)?
  • I expect to be in your area on Tuesday. Now (insert prospect's name) I'd like to show you how my program will increase your profits. Is Tuesday good or would Wednesday be better?

You can take charge

These bullet points aren't to be memorized. They are offered to spur your thinking about how to open conversations in various situations. Above all, to communicate effectively you must be yourself, and part of that is using your own language, not words you've read in an article or in a sales script.

It's also important to remember your goal is to establish relationships. If you develop strong ties, sales will naturally follow. Focus on making meaningful connections with the people you call.

In addition, be prepared. Know what your assets are and what you want to say. Be concise, don't ramble, listen well and respond appropriately to what your prospects say. Some people also advise placing a mirror beside your phone. If you sit up straight, smile and look confident, this will be reflected in your voice.

And remember, set aside time to make calls. All the preparation in the world will be of no use if you don't pick up that receiver, tap in a number and say hello. "Your success depends upon the skills you develop as a prospector," Green wrote. "Start looking for new prospects today, and if you never stop, neither will your income." end of article

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