In the early morning, when most sales departments are abuzz with reps on the phone setting up appointments with prospects, I often hear the proverbial, "I'd like to come over and talk to you about advertising". Inevitably, I also hear, "We have something special that you might like to see coming up for Christmas". These techniques endure despite their meager five percent closing ratio.
Dont Get Scared Away
Here are some of the worst responses you may hear from prospects.
Dont ever call me again. You got that? I never want to hear from you again.
Who the heck are you?
Why dont you take a flying leap, pal!
You salespeople are all alike, a bunch of nitwits. Stop bothering me!
But if you follow the steps below, youll be setting up appointments with a 70 percent closing ratio.
1. Introduce yourself and ask for the prospect by first name: Dont ask for the market director or GM. This is very impersonal; from your research, you should already know his or her first name. Once you get the decision-maker on the phone, try something like this: Mr. Johnson, this is Sean Luce with Name Of Your Company. During the call, pause, smile, and stay relaxed-and stand up, dont sit down at your desk.
2. Purpose in calling/credibility statement: There are two ways to establish your credibility and purpose statement. One is to explain the research you have done on their business. Mr. Johnson, I had the opportunity to walk through your furniture store last Tuesday afternoon. I spoke with one of your sales reps, Christy, who seemed very knowledgeable. I noticed some things inside your store that I may be able to help you with. I have some expertise in moving people through retail stores, and Id like to share my observations, as well as learn a little more about your business.
The second opening is to use a benefit statement such as, We have worked with many retail stores and have been successful moving potential customers through doors and also increased their website traffic. During the past few months, we have worked with use some examples of successful stories where your company has increased traffic. Perhaps we can do the same for you. I need 20 minutes to determine if there is an opportunity to help with your businesss marketing strategy.
3. Trigger the buying motive: Ask one question that you know will have a positive response based on your in-store research. For example: Is increasing the electronics part of your operation important to you? Make sure you never ask a close-ended question unless you know the answer. The information on electronics should have come from your discussion with Christy during your in-store visit.
4. Trial Close: Good, I need 20 minutes. I will be in your area on Friday.
5. Contact concerns and objections: No matter how prepared you are, and even if you have already identified a need, you are still likely to encounter objections. How would you respond to the following?
Im not interested in buying anything.
Im happy with my current advertising.
Tell me over the phone/send the information over email.
I dont have the time.
All objections can be answered by sticking to the reason for your call: to gain 20 minutes of their time to undergo a process that will benefit them by determining the potential for garnering increased prospects to their business (or whatever your pre-call research revealed that you could help them with). Its also important to note that, on this first call, which will determine if there is a match or fit with your company, you will not be selling advertising -- and it will be the most beneficial 20 minutes theyve ever spent with anyone in marketing. You must truly have that confidence in yourself and your product.
6. Confirm the next step: Once they have said yes, establish a time to meet. You want to get in the routine of setting up appointments on the 10, 20, 40 or 50 minutes after the hour. Remember, you are the busiest sales rep in the world. People want to do business with people who are busy, versus have a blank calendar and can fill in an appointment anytime and anywhere. You are different! The offset times will stick in the prospects mind. Confirm location. Thank them by saying, I look forward to meeting with you. Be sure to let the prospect hang up first. You dont want to convey the message that you are in a hurry, anxious, or happy to get the call over with.
Send your confirmation note immediately -- in the mail. Note, I said "in the mail," so they receive it a day or two before the appointment. If you dont have that time and lets say the appointment is the next day, send over an email using the subject line to say thank you and that youre looking forward to seeing them tomorrow. This cuts down on no-shows and lets the prospects know you are serious about what you are doing. If they receive a confirmation/thank you note, there is an obligation to meet with you, or at least schedule an appointment when they know they will be there.
Sean Luce is the Head International Instructor for the Luce Performance Group and can be reached at email@example.com.
As seen on Radio Ink Headlines 9-17-2012