One of the most beneficial things a salesperson can do before making initial contact with a prospect is to create a script and rehearse. In essence, the “script” is a brief introduction of who you are and what value you can bring to a possible business relationship. Remember, you may only have a few seconds to deliver this, so make it count. Be yourself, be personable, but stick to the script to ensure that you stay on track towards accomplishing your pre-call objective.
In most cases, your objective is to secure a time to conduct a thorough customer needs analysis. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid using email to make first contact – it’s impossible to compose a message that does not sound generic and appear as if you’re sending it out to hundreds of people and only changing the “Dear XXX,” line.
Be sure to prepare two lists of questions to ask your prospect should you get the opportunity to speak with a decision maker. Always remember to keep moving towards your pre-call objective!
List #1: Questions for those prospects that express an interest in your product or service.
List #2: Questions to keep the conversation positive for prospects that do not have a genuine interest at this time.
Personally, here is how I break down the initial sales contact process in seven steps. These steps are applicable whether your initial contact is done via phone or in person:
1. Give a greeting that includes your name and who you are with.
2. Ask for the name of the decision maker (unless you already have this information) and if he/she has a moment to speak with you.
3. Once you have an audience with the decision maker, confidently deliver your “opening” statement.
4. Wait for their response and listen carefully for any signals that will tell you whether to use List #1 or List #2 as define above.
5. If their response is favorable, proceed with one or two qualifying questions and listen. If their response shows no interest, ask a few additional probing questions and permission to follow up in the future (usually 6 months.) Then proceed to step number seven.
6. If all is going well, be direct and ask for a meeting. Schedule the time BEFORE you leave or hang up the phone.
7. Thank them for their time and confirm that you’ll see them at the predetermined time/date –or- will follow up in the future with their permission.
Whether you achieve your pre-call objective or not, always be courteous and thank them for their time. If the initial contact was in person, leave them something of value as you say goodbye – a brochure, media kit, or anything they can look over after you’re gone. Always remember to leave your business card!
That is it. Keep notes on each prospect you make initial contact with and what the outcome was – especially if you secured an appointment for a follow up meeting. Record the day and time before you forget! Although the initial contact process can be intimidating, it can be a lot of fun, build confidence, and best yet be PROFITABLE if you are prepared, professional, and not afraid of possible rejection.
Have a terrific week,
If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org