There is no doubt about it. Contacting your prospective and current customers by telephone is essential for managing and strengthening your business relationships. This is achieved more effectively than any other marketing medium, and maximizes your opportunities for visibility, growth, and increased revenue. What may start out as a “cold call” can turn into a very warm and rewarding partnership—resulting in successful and profitable outcomes.
Experience Matters: Most sales representatives do not have enough time on their daily agendas to keep up with the volume of calls necessary to reach their goals. If this is the case in your organization, then you may want to consider contracting with someone. When looking for the right individual to assist you in making calls and scheduling appointments, keep in mind that it is important to work with someone who is experienced in your particular industry, and who knows how to communicate effectively with your key decision makers. There is nothing worse than having a person speaking on your behalf who is not articulate, and who does not understand how to handle a conversation with business executives. You want someone who can hit the ground running, and who has the ability to think on their feet.
Use a Quality List of Targeted Prospects: As we all know, it is important to have a good list to work from, whether you are making calls to prospects, sending emails, or getting ready to send out that big direct mail campaign. Take the time to do your research on who your key decision makers are before you begin reaching out to them. Even if it takes some extra effort to get a clean, updated list, it will be well worth it in the long run. There are plenty of list companies or list brokers to choose from. While no list is 100% perfect, you want to make sure to select all the pertinent information you need, such as Targeted Contact Names (Key Decision Makers), Titles, Company/Organization, Parent Company (if available), Web Site Addresses, Physical and/or Mailing Addresses, City, State, Zip, Phone Numbers, Email Addresses. You can even fine tune your search within certain categories, such as Demographics, Geographic Areas, Size of Organization, Revenue, Type of Products Purchased Within the Last Year, etc. The size of a list should not matter. A big list does not necessarily mean it is a good one. You want to strive, however, to get as much of an updated list as possible. If selecting a list company that you have never worked with before, make sure to contact some references from other businesses like yours that have used the lists you are considering—and don’t be afraid to call them to find out if the lists worked well for them.
Trade Shows/Conferences. There are also lists available that include the attendees of a particular trade show or conference in your industry. If you get these lists, you can reach out to your prospects in order to schedule appointments with those who may be interested in evaluating your product or service. Invite them to stop by your booth, and offer to send them information. If time permits, try to qualify them by asking a few questions: Are they currently using a product (gear toward the type of product you are offering)? If so, which one? Are they happy with it? For those people who do stop by your booth, be sure to get their business cards or have them fill out a form so you have their contact information for future marketing efforts. By all means, make sure to follow up by phone and email after the conference.
Create an Effective Message That Engages Your Prospects. Before you begin making calls, be sure to develop a call guide that is focused on learning more about your prospects, their needs, interests, and objectives. You want to get to know your prospects better before you introduce your products or services. Include some specific questions that will be valuable in qualifying your leads. For example, What services are you using now? (Tailor this to the type of services or products that you are trying to sell), How are these services helping you to achieve your goals and increase revenue? The prospects you are calling receive numerous calls per week, so you have to find the best method to stand out in their minds and make an impression. For example, you can point out certain relevant concerns that are going on in the industry that are most likely affecting your prospects’ business. Even if they do not have a need for your product or service at that moment, or do not want to admit that they are not happy with their current solution, you will indeed get them thinking about your conversation when they are ready.
Don’t Drop the Ball: Once you reach the prospect and have a conversation, make sure to follow up with an email, or another phone call, depending on the situation. Even if the contact is not interested at this time does not mean that there won’t be a need in the future. The more you stay on top of your prospect list, the greater your impact will be in increasing your company’s visibility in the marketplace. Following up and not dropping the ball is also important—otherwise, someone else will come along at the right time and you will have a missed opportunity.
Please leave a comment and share any suggestions on techniques that have worked for you. It is always helpful to incorporate new ideas into your marketing programs.
About the Writer:
Lee Dill is an Independent Contractor with over 15 years of marketing and sales experience helping businesses, including start-up companies, increase growth, visibility, and revenue within the healthcare and technology sector. Focus is placed on establishing and strengthening relationships, generating and qualifying leads, and scheduling appointments with key decision makers. She can be reached at www.leedresearch.com