Anyone who has tried to engage over the phone with a new prospect will tell you that the “opening” is critical. One of the biggest mistakes anyone can make, when calling a prospect, is to launch straight into a 100 mph sales pitch as soon as they answer the phone. This is often a symptom of the caller not feeling confident enough to engage in a real conversation with the prospect and it instead becomes a one way sales pitch. This is absolutely the wrong approach and it is almost guaranteed to be met with a no thanks and a hang up. We suggest at G2M, that the caller thinks about metaphorically conducting a “handshake” before introducing the topic that they would like to discuss. It’s no different to meeting someone face to face for the first time, you wouldn’t launch straight into a conversation without first asking permission to speak.
The tone of voice is also critical. It must be friendly and professional but delivered with some energy and some inflection in tone. It conveys a feeling that the recipient should listen to you. A monotone voice without energy tells the recipient this is a conversation which is probably not going to be interesting for them. If the caller can’t get excited about the message how can the person answering! Language can be a barrier to establishing that rapport with the recipient of the call. The preference where possible should be to apply local language skills, for example at G2M we have English/Spanish/Italian/French/Portuguese as well as staff in the US to support this.
We always suggest keeping the “opening” simple. For example:
- Hi this is Paul from XXXX… how are you? I wondered, do you have a minute?
- Hi this is Paul from XXXX… how are you? Have you heard of XXXX? Do you have a minute to explain what we do, as I think it will be interesting for you?
There are three possible outcomes:
- “No thanks, I’m not interested” provided you have done your research and have been very polite and professional in your opening, this is the least likely. At this stage I recommend that you thank them for their time and close the call. We never badger prospects (Our technology clients value their reputations more than that) and given the odds against turning around the conversation from that opening, we would prefer to retreat and either try another contact in the organisation.
- “I’ve got 5 minutes before my next meeting so go ahead….” Yes you are now under pressure to find the right hooks to engage the prospect, but you should have that in hand already and now you have their permission and they are definitely listening, which will increase significantly the likelihood of a positive outcome.
- “Actually I’m really busy right now” this happens regularly and can in fact be the best outcome, but only if you then suggest “that’s no problem, is there a better time for us to talk?” You now have the opportunity to put a date and time in the diary and with asking permission to send a diary invite, you are part way to an opportunity to have a full unhindered 10-15 minute conversation with the prospect, with their interest and attention secured.
Following these guidelines will improve your success, especially if combined with good research and preparation and what we call at G2M “Know Your Prospect” but that is another topic!