While there are many other tools to use in sales these days – email, social networks, direct mail, etc. the telephone is still one of the best ways to build relationships and one of the most personal ways to reach customers. If you get cold feet just thinking of making a sales call, a little preparation can help you overcome your fears and begin to make successful calls.
Generate leads. Take a bit of the “cold” out of sales calls by generating a leads list. Identify a target list of companies who are more likely to need your services and the decision makers (or influential people) in those companies. If you can make other connections within a company through your online social networks and use them as references, even better. If you offer specific advantages over a competitor of yours, try to find leads that buy from them.
Learn about your target companies. It is easy to get information about your prospects online. Do not over-research to avoid making calls, but do take some time to learn a bit more about your prospects and what “solutions” of yours seem most appropriate for each. Write down some specific points, how you might help, and questions for each lead.
Block out enough time for calls. You can make sales calls at any time, but it may be more beneficial to set aside one or more blocks of time to focus strictly on sales calls. Scheduling an hour or more at a time helps you to build a “rhythm” and will help make calling easier. Mornings are generally more effective than the afternoon. However, you may also want to try after hours to bypass receptionists and speak directly to your prospects.
Identify your objective for calling each prospect. Is your plan to get an appointment, to introduce yourself or a new product, or to make a sale over the phone? Each requires a different strategy. If your goal is to sell services or products over the phone, be prepared to answer basic questions. If you need to “show” not “tell about” your services, focus on getting the appointment rather than talking about your work.
Create a sales script. Create a basic sales script introducing yourself, your company, and how you can help your prospect. Keep your objective in mind – an introduction, an appointment, or a sale. Tailor your script for each prospect and practice it before you make your call. If you plan to make a sale over the phone, be sure you have talking points and succinct product and services information at hand. Anticipate questions and how you might answer them.
Practice. Practice your phone pitch in the mirror so you are comfortable with it. Do you sound nervous? Lower your voice, speak clearly and slowly, and relax and smile as you talk. (It’s proven that people can tell whether a caller is smiling or not.) Give yourself a pep talk. Remember that you are every
bit as professional as your prospect and that you offer professional services and products. Be confident and polite, not apologetic. Now move those warmed-up feet to the phone!
Know when to listen and when to stop talking. Listen for pieces of information from your prospect that may help you to tailor a future appointment or sales pitch. If you’ve achieved your objective – the sale, the appointment, the connection – stop talking. Thank your contact, affirm that appointment or follow-up, and move on to the next contact.