The following is a Sales Q&A by author and speaker Dave Kahle

 

Q: How do I get to see new prospects who won’t return voice mail?

A: There is a principle that we need to grasp if we’re going to be more effective at this most difficult task. The principle is this: There is no short cut, no simple, easy magic answer.
That means that you are going to have to invest serious planning time and serious creative thought in improving your results.

Let’s start with this essential first step. Prepare a powerful opening statement. You use this to introduce yourself to a prospect as well as to leave as part of your voice mail message.
This statement should be short and persuasive. It should communicate specifically what benefit your company can bring to the prospect. I like this organization:

Here’s an example: “Hello……., this is Dave Kahle, President of the DaCo Corporation. We are a consulting and training company that focuses on helping B2B companies increase their sales and develop their people. We have some unique resources that can help your salespeople improve their performance. I’ll need about 15 minutes to share some of the resources that are applicable to…… companies like yours.”
You then ask for the appointment, if you are talking to a live person, or to return the call if your leaving a voice mail message.
Notice, in this example, that we introduced ourselves, focused on a benefit for companies like this one, made it specific to this company, and then indicated how much time that customer would need to invest – all in about 65 words.
A
lso, note that the benefit is very specific “help your salespeople improve their performance.” The more specific the benefit, the more attractive it is. So many times I hear sales people make vague and general promises like “save you money.” Your prospects hear these vague promises so often that they mean nothing. Instead of a vague promise, mention some very specific benefit.
If you can save them money, exactly how do you do it? If you reduce their costs, exactly how do you do it? Be as specific as possible. Remember, the more specific, the more attractive.
This is just the first, necessary step in achieving more appointments. There are a number of other strategies that build on this.
The concept of a “pre-call touch.”
First, a little perspective. I wish I could provide you with a magic phrase or set of “secret” words that are guaranteed to get the prospect to return your call and grant you an audience. But it is just not that easy. Influencing new prospects to return your call and to invest their time in the speculative venture of seeing another sales person is not a simple thing. And, clearly, it is growing more difficult.
There is no one strategy, no simple guaranteed set of tactics that will work magic for you. There are, however, some principals and strategies that will increase the likelihood of you getting an appointment with the elusive prospect.
There is a principle that we need to grasp if we’re going to be more effective at this most difficult task. The principle is this: There is no short cut, no simple, easy magic answer. That means that you are going to have to invest serious planning time and serious creative thought in improving your results.
Here’s one option which is used effectively by a number of my clients. I call it an “effective pre-call touch.”
What’s a pre-call touch? It’s a delivery that you make to the person with whom you are trying to gain an appointment. That delivery conditions them to be more receptive to your call.
There are several different kinds of pre-call touches. The first and most effective is a personal introduction. If you know someone who can introduce you personally, face-to-face, to the person you want to talk to, that personal introduction is always the most effective way of meeting a new person. Once you have your list of prospects, look through the names and ask yourself, “Is there anyone I know who might know some of these people?” If so, ask them to introduce you. If they agree, then you will have arranged for a very effective pre-call touch.
Next down the ladder of effectiveness is an introductory phone call. This is where someone you know calls someone who is on the list and suggests to them that they talk to you when you call. They introduce you over the phone and say good things about you. That’s another very effective pre-call touch.
Here’s a third one, called a pre-heat letter. This is a letter from someone else, to the person who you want to see, introducing you. In other words, instead of you just calling the person out of the cold, you have someone write them a letter. This isn’t as hard as it seems. My insurance agent does this with me. Here’s how he works his system.
He calls and invites me to lunch once or twice a year. Of course I know that he wants to get some referrals from me.
After I agree to have lunch with him, he sends me a form a few days before the lunch. The form asks very specific questions, all asking who I know who meets certain criteria. My job is to list some names on this form. Then we go to lunch. At lunch we make small talk and catch up on each other’s lives. Then somewhere toward the end of the lunch, my insurance agent pulls out his big folder and he says, “Now who do you know who I might see?” He asks me to refer to the form and read off the list of names.
So, I give him two or three names. That, however, is not the end of it. He next asks me about each of those people. He inquires into what I know about them, how old they are, what education they have, do they own their own business, etc. He collects pieces of information about each of those people. Then he says, “You wouldn’t mind introducing me to them, would you?”
I say, “No. I guess not.”
Dave Kahle has trained tens of thousands of B2B salespeople, sales managers and business owners to be more effective in the 21st Century economy. He’s authored nine books, and presented in 47 states and seven countries. To access Dave’s training, insights and tools online, visit The Sales Resource Center. Visit www.davekahle.com to check out a seminar near you.

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