Most of us don’t sell products that can be closed on the phone; a face-to-face meeting is needed. If this description fits you, you must skillfully engage the prospect in the first moments of your cold call. Only then will your prospect agree to invest time meeting with you.
It is easy for a prospect to break off a telephone sales call – much more difficult to end a face-to-face meeting. So the best outcome of most telephone prospecting calls in an appointment.
The sales rep who called me for coaching sounded quite distressed as he explained to me, “I’m an outside sales rep, and my teleprospector quit. Therefore, I have to do my own prospecting, and I hate it. I’m a good outside rep, but I freeze up when I have to call these people.”
“What are you saying to them?” I inquired.
“I’m _____ with _____. We are a freight shipper, and I’d like to come out and take some of your time to explain what we do.”
Analysis And Recommendation
No wonder he didn’t like prospecting. I would have been paranoid, too, with the resistance he was experiencing. But it was entirely unnecessary, because the rebuffs were invited. That opening is awful.
To paraphrase, it says, “We’re one of the hundreds of companies that are in this business. I want to sit in your office and take your valuable time so I can talk about my company and why I think we’re good.”
There’s nothing of interest there for the prospect. I see no reason for a prospect to even listen to that call, much less agree to an appointment. It puts the listener on the defensive, closes his or her mind to possibilities and causes the prospect to shift into a “Let’s get this guy off the phone” mode.
I gave him a simple suggestion for an opening:
“I’m _____ with _____. We’ve worked with a lot of traffic managers in the (fill in the industry) to help them get the best rates and on-time deliveries with no hassles. Depending on what and where you ship, it might be worth your time to talk. If I’ve caught you at a good time, please tell me briefly about your less-than-truckload shipping requirements.”
When the caller heard my suggestions, he liked them, but mentioned that the new opening didn’t ask the prospect for an appointment right away. Precisely. I asked if he ever visited a “prospect” who was less than euphoric about the appointment, or who wasn’t a prospect at all. He said yes. So why did he even visit that person? Why not conduct the preliminaries by phone?
If you’re using the phone to prospect, and regardless of whether your next step is to communicate in person or by phone, be certain you have something of interest in order to get prospects talking. Your results will be much more pleasurable.