Julie Tucker
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Sales calls: The personable approach

Cold calling is still one of the best ways to drive revenue because it’s a personal way of building relationships and making sales. It’s never easy, however, so you need to be prepared for rejection.

Research shows only 2% of sales are made on the first contact, while 80% are made on anything from the fifth to the twelfth communication!

Don’t be one of the 44% of sales reps who give up after the first rejection, as adopting a personable approach to sales calls means you’re cultivating a relationship that can pay dividends in the longer term.

In order to build a relationship through sales calls, plan your strategy and technique in advance.

Preparing for a sales call

Researching your contacts will boost your results – and in today’s digital world, this is easier to do than ever before. Your first stop should be their LinkedIn profile. If you’re targeting a particular company, it will show a description, the employees and more.

If you know the name of the person you need to contact, find them on the list, or simply choose an employee to go for if you don’t have anyone in mind. Look for any useful information on their LinkedIn profile, such as their past job, where they live and their education.

You could use Twitter in the same way. It could be as simple as sending them a message to get in touch to set up a call.

Writing a script

Once you’ve introduced yourself, show the prospects you’re not like all the rest. Here’s where your research comes in useful, as you can write a brief script, based on what you know about the person.

It’s normal to feel nervous before making a call, so take a deep breath and feel calm before picking up the phone. Maybe you could rehearse what you plan to say. You should have plenty of icebreakers if you’ve researched thoroughly.

Take a personal approach without obviously pushing for a sale. Nobody wants to feel like they’re being railroaded into something – hence the majority of sales being made after the fifth call at the earliest. It pays to tread carefully.

Introduce yourself first, with your name, title and the company you work for. Tell them the reason for your call, whether it’s a new product, or a service, such as an online platform or app. Then, say something like, “I’m taking an educated guess here, but based on your online profile, you appear to be the appropriate person to connect with, or you might be able to point me in the right direction?”

Ask if they can spare 15 minutes for a telephone appointment on a specified date and time, so you’re not demanding their time immediately. If they agree, follow up the initial contact with the pre-arranged call.

Why does this approach work?

According to psychologists, this type of script tends to work because it clearly identifies who you are and what you’re selling. You’re asking for advice on who to speak to, rather than plunging in right away with your sales pitch and you’re inviting them to talk at a later date.

You have mentioned that you’ve seen their online profile and believe they are the right person to speak to, suggesting you’ve done your homework and haven’t simply plunged in cold.

Specifying the length of the next call enables them to pop it in their diary, as they know exactly how long it will take. The objective at this stage is to get them to commit to a follow-up call. You don’t need to stick to this script word for word, but it gives you an idea of how to get on the right track.

Business surveys suggest calling at the right time for your prospects can help to make a sale. Research into more than 25,000 sales calls revealed weekday afternoons were the best time to cold call prospects.

The most useful calls lasted more than five minutes and took place between 3pm and 5pm on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon. However, there’s no “one size fits all” and you must be prepared to play it by ear to fit in with their schedule.

How should you handle your second call?

Once you know you’re speaking with the right person, you need to make a good impression. One approach is to steer the conversation round to sharing personal stories that can build a rapport. This may sound complicated, but it can be simple.

Tell the prospect a customer success story, explaining your role and your company’s role in boosting their business. Ask your prospect, in straightforward terms, how they would feel about benefiting in a similar way.

For example, depending on what you’re offering, say something like, “How would your business benefit from getting ten new customers each month?”

Put the ideas out there, but don’t push too hard for a sale or a commitment at this stage. Give them the opportunity to go away and think about it, but don’t rush off the phone too quickly, as this can make it appear you’re not really interested in how they feel.

Take notes during the conversation, so that next time you speak, you have something to work on. Building a rapport takes time and often can’t be achieved through one, two, or even three calls. Cultivate the relationship and your patience is more likely to be rewarded.

Can sales calls be used within any business?

The answer is yes, without a doubt. The popular modern trend of coworking spaces is a great example of how this flexible office space can serve independent workers. Coworking can be the best chance independent workers have to progress their business.

There’s no shortage of conversation, support-giving and collaboration, so the atmosphere is conducive to feeling energised and confident. The single metric for your business should be attracting sales to grow your customer base.

You may consider the environment too busy for cold calling, but on the contrary, when you feel comfortable, this can boost your ability to talk naturally and confidently on the phone. If you want to make calls from a private meeting room or a ‘phone booth’, you can, so background noise isn’t a problem.

Some co-workers bring in independent salespeople to take on this side of the business. There are under-utilised sales people who want to get out of the corporate environment. Try bringing one in if you’re a start-up or freelancer – they could work miracles!

If your business isn’t yet big enough to warrant taking on a full-time salesperson, there’s scope for collaborating with another company in your coworking space.

Although it’s preferable for entrepreneurs to have a sales force representative of their brand, the ideal salesperson is you.

The other benefit of coworking spaces goes back to the best times to make that cold call. If you’ve crunched the numbers and determined the ideal time that suits your prospects, you can gear up your working week to having a presence at those times. You’re not governed by the confines of the 9-5 traditional office day.

Contact Headspace Group for further information on our network of coworking spaces for the creative, media and technology sectors.


Image credit: © REDPIXEL.PL / Shutterstock.com

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