Being able to create new business opportunities is the absolute lifeblood of any business and the business owner. These days so many people rely on technology (email and websites) to do the majority of the work. And frankly who likes calling prospects anyway.
But using your phone as part of starting a conversation with a prospective client shouldn’t be considered an antiquated approach. It still works – just because it’s not ‘sexy’ technology or easy, doesn’t make it wrong.
That there are fewer people doing using their phone to make initial contact with potential clients, makes it a far less cluttered approach. So, if you’re serious about building your new business pipeline, how do you best maximise your time and create better opportunities?
Do your research
Nothing wastes more time, effort and energy than going through a list of phone numbers randomly ringing people hoping they’ll be the one. Yes, sales can be a numbers game, but you can at least get better odds for yourself than the usual 1-3 leads in 100 calls from that approach. Doing your homework will do that.
Start with understanding who your ideal prospects are. Get to know them in detail. What they like to do, where they hang out, who they hang out with, what’s important to them and how they’re likely to feel about your product or service. You might even look to see who’s in the chain immediately before and after dealing with your industry. LinkedIn is a wonderful resource for that.
Once you know who your ideal prospects are, go to somewhere those people hang out – a meeting/conference/the polo (don’t try to sell them or even meet them unless it’s an easy introduction there – just go on a reconnaissance trip).
Create a list of your top 100 and only focus on them until you’re done.
Google the companies, the people, their connections, what they’re known for, etc. Yes, it might sound a bit like stalking, but if it’s in the public domain, most likely they’re happy for people to know that information about them. See who you know or have done business with that might be useful to mention as a door opener.
How do you know if you’re done with them? Someone once told me that you’re done when they buy or die. But really, keep going (in a respectful manner) until they agree to meet or ask you to stop. Don’t just give up – they might not be ready to buy yet.
Have a great introduction planned
There’s nothing worse than someone who says hello and then launches off into a script of how wonderful their product or service is without drawing breath. Sometimes even more off-putting is someone who tries to get too friendly too quickly.
Call at the right time
If your research has shown that they’re frequently out at lunchtime, do an hour of yoga in the morning or make time to pick up their kids from school – schedule your call to avoid those times. If you only reach voicemail – don’t try to sell in your message, have a message prepared to say when you’ll call back otherwise you look like a crazy stalker who rings and never leaves messages. If you do get to talk to them, ask if now’s a good time – you don’t want to get a minute in and have them need to go to a meeting. If now’s not a great time, ask when they’ve got 5 minutes and ring back on the dot.
Know what you want that first call to achieve
Let’s face it, most of the time you’re calling someone new, the outcome you’re wanting is not to sell them something – rather it’s to set an appointment, send further information, get them to visit or try something. Keep your focus on the initial outcome, not the end goal and realise there are many steps in building the kind of relationship that leads to business being done. Take one at a time.
And finally, follow up
I read a great blog the other day that highlighted that most sales are done on the 5-12th contact, yet most salespeople don’t make it past contact number three. Keep going – remember to buy or die.
If we can help take some of your dreaded admin off your hands so that you can focus on getting stuck into your new business drive for 2013, we’d be delighted to assist. You can call us on 02 9994 8000 or join us on LinkedIn.