Securing appointments

business20interviewWho is responsible for creating warm leads or opening client doors in your organization?

In large organizations, generating warm leads is often the responsibility of the marketing department, who assuming they are doing their job correctly will have already established a local or international brand position helping open doors for you and your sales teams. Your marketing team will, having crafted some novel and interesting ways of engaging client interest, generated a plethora of warm leads for the sales team to follow-up.

On the other hand, if you are working for a smaller company without an established brand image and an limited marketing budget, you will need to learn how to work with or around the gatekeeper and open doors to decision makers and possibly influencers to raise awareness of your product and service? Most sales people find this the most demanding task of all. If you fear rejection then prospecting and cold calling is likely to drive you crazy and make you wish you had taken up another career.

One thing for sure is that cold calling is not for the faint hearted. Couple this with a lack of creativity and a number of sales people fail at this first hurdle. But is it all that bad? Here are some tips that will help overcome the fear barrier and assist you to deliver some impressive sales figures.

Networking

Look closely at your network of contacts. Resolve to improve your network of contacts that are able to generate more business referrals. Somewhere in excess of 60% of all business is done through recommendation and research shows that it is easier to close business when a strong recommendation has been given by a third party.

Imagine if someone calls you out of the blue and wanted to arrange an appointment to talk about some business. Without a compelling reason what is the likelihood of you taking the call? Pretty slim I would guess. Alternatively you call your prospect and explain that John Smith of Fargo and Sons (a close friend and /or associate of your prospect) suggested that I call you regarding………….. How more likely is this call to be taken?

Networking works but takes time. It is not a quick fix and needs some discipline, persistance and time to work effectively. There are formal and informal networks out there. Go and seek them out and watch you sales opportunities grow.

Getting an appointment

I was recently working with a group of sales people and the topic of cold calling and the dreaded words “Thanks but I am not interested” came up. One of the delegates shared with us an interesting way on how he managed to secure meetings with prospects and managed to avoid the “thanks but we are not interested” statement.

Having done some research on the contact details of the decision maker or key influencer in the prospect organization the delegate dialed the person in question. The person who answered the call was more often than not a secretary or person, whose role was to filter calls as much as possible. The call went somewhat along the following lines.

Hello can I help you?
Yes can I speak to John Smith?
Can I ask what the call is in connection with?
Yes, my name is David. I sent some literature by mail to Ian (prospect) from my company ABC Ltd last week for his information. This is a follow up call to see if he managed to take a look at it and see if we can be of assistance.

The secret here was that John had actually sent nothing!!!!! Consequently he had the reply – I am sorry bit we cannot remember seeing it. David offers his apologies and explains that this has happened with some other clients and suspects that there could be a problem with the post and to ensure that it does not get lost again would it be OK to drop the literature in personally to ensure that it does not get lost a second time.

Both parties at this point are trying to save embarrassment and agree to have the literature hand delivered. John explained to me that he secured more appointments with this method than any other.

Comments from the rest of the attendees was mixed. Some said they would never do this and others suggested they would try it. Some felt it was unethical.

What do you think?
Have you tried this method?
What other methods have you used that have worked for you?

There are lots of sales people out there looking for advice on how to open doors. Let’s share our experiences good or bad and get in front of more prospects.

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