But ..... prospecting for new customers does mean picking up the phone
Before you kick down the door of your sales manager and tell them you don't need to cold call any more, read on.
This is the second in a series of articles that do a deep dive into a customer centred selling process that will improve sales skills and sales results - all while providing the customer with a better experience. The first article focused on the research that great sales people do before calling anyone - and that research will pay off now as we prepare to actually pick up the phone.
Making calls that aren't cold
It is as simple as this - if you have done your research properly, no call should be cold. In prospecting for new customers there is no place, especially in B2B, for the purely cold call - every call should be warmed up a little before it is made. The difference is a lot more than just playing with words as this table shows.
One of our franchise partners made a warm call to a large client about two years ago. Early in the call, the client asked 'how much do you know about what we do?'. Our team member had done their research and was able to demonstrate this by asking some excellent questions - because the client was impressed about receiving a call from a professional, she was prepared to engage and answer those questions.
A few months later, the client approached me at a function and asked me 'do you know how many calls I get from sales people each week? Most of them haven't taken the time to understand anything about us - we are just another call to them. When I got the call from your team member it wasn't like a call from a sales person - it was like talking to a fellow professional and I instantly knew that this was someone who could help us'. Today, that client is one of that franchise partners largest clients.
Deciding whether to phone or visit
We are often asked which is better - prospecting for new customers by phone or actually walking into a business (assuming you are in B2B sales). It all comes back to the purpose of the call - if you would make a phone call to set up an appointment, then walking into the business should have the same purpose.
The problem we often see with a walk in visit is that the sales person gets drawn into a rushed product dump instead of sticking to the purpose of the visit. The other drawback is that you talk to fewer people in the same amount of time - and you tend to target those who are close together rather than those who are most qualified.
Overall, we prefer to make the first contact by phone - but a walk-in is a good fall back position if you have a quality prospect that you are struggling to reach by phone. Either way, remember your call objective - if it is to make a time to meet with the client, get that done and get off the phone or out the door!
When are you prospecting?
- Doing it when you have time (code for never)?
- According to a schedule or routine?
Let's be really clear about this - if you don't have a routine, it is almost certain you aren't doing enough. Set up a schedule that is either:
- A specific number of prospecting calls each day
- Allocated times each day or week
Are you making enough calls? Too many?
To keep yourself honest, you should be making around 10 calls per hour. Any more than this and you probably aren't researching properly. Any less than this and we may be looking at avoidance behaviour! This isn't an exact number but somewhere around this is a good balance - of course, the ultimate indicator is how many times you achieve your call objective.
Six minutes a call doesn't sound a lot of time, especially if you have a couple of good conversations, but you will inevitably have a fair proportion of people unavailable to talk.
Making great prospecting calls
Our next article will give you a framework for a great prospecting call. We hate scripts so don't expect one - they certainly aren't a good example of customer centred selling. However, there is no reason not to have a well organised framework that is customer focused and that works. Why not subscribe to our blog so you know as soon as the next article is available?
In the meantime, if you need some help hitting your new business targets, download our free customer prospecting calculator.