1. When you are making introductory calls to set up new business meetings, you are not selling whatever it is that you sell. You are selling a meeting. You want a few minutes of your prospect’s time and that’s it. You are not asking your prospect to buy anything or change anything they are currently doing; you are asking your prospect to agree to have a conversation with you. Most importantly: You are not asking that your prospect make a buying decision on the telephone. If you approach prospects in this manner, you will encounter far less resistance.
2. Structure your call from the prospect’s point of view. Many callers want to first determine whether or not they are speaking with a qualified prospect so they ask questions up front. Then if the prospect appears to be qualified, these callers try to set up a meeting. Your prospect, on the other hand, wants to know who you are and why you are calling. You will encounter far less resistance in your calls if you start out by telling them.
3. When speaking with a prospect, avoid questions that imply that your prospect has made mistakes in their past decisions. For example:
“What don’t you like about your current vendor?”
“What are the weaknesses of your current supplier?”
Both of these questions imply an insult to your prospect’s decision-making abilities.
4. If your prospect already has a vendor, another particularly useless question is: “How is that working for you?” (or “How is that going?”) Please eliminate it from your repertoire. Remember that the biggest enemy to sales is the status quo. Prospects are often not willing to admit that something is not working, especially to a stranger. This question could easily backfire when your prospect says, “Great!”
5. Try not to ask your prospect what they like about their current vendor. This approach will frequently backfire and remind your prospect what it is they do like about their vendor making them even more resistant to change.
6. A better approach is to ask about specific challenges, challenges or issues that you know you can resolve:
“When (fill in the blank) happens, how do you handle it?”
“What are you doing about (fill in the blank)?”
7. Use the word “pencil” to set up a meeting with a prospect who seems skittish. “Let’s pencil something in…” This implies that it can be erased or rescheduled. It keeps your prospect from feeling trapped. You get what you want: a meeting; they get what they want: low pressure.
8. Keep in mind, once a prospect has scheduled a meeting, they are more likely to keep it, or if that scheduled time turns out not to work, they are more likely to reschedule.
9. Never use the word “appointment” when asking for one. It is much better to use the word “meeting.”
10. Prospecting is a communication skill. Like any communication skill it can be learned and improved upon.
If you need to improve your prospecting skills, make sure you enroll in the upcoming “Cold Calling College–Live” where you will work directly with “The Queen of Cold Calling” to ensure that you have the words you need to woo and wow prospects. You can enroll here:© Copyright 2007 Wendy Weiss