The first call you make to a prospect is critical. It could make or break you. And yet, I find capable, well-meaning, highly intelligent people not putting in the effort to prepare for it. While it is obvious, and most definitely not rocket science, it helps to have a checklist to go against. I recently put together a short checklist for a client of what to think about when making the first call for a client. I am reproducing a version of it here that readers might find useful.
Before we go to the checklist, it helps to pause and think about the situation you are in. You may have been introduced by someone or you could be calling cold. However, if you have a live person on the other end of the telephone line, consider yourself very lucky. It is very difficult to actually get somebody to talk to when you are trying to break into an account. Recognize that and prepare adequately.
The Internet makes it easy to do basic research on companies and individuals, use it to your advantage. At a minimum
- Learn about the company you are calling into. Some web searches and websites like Hoover’s make it easy.
- What does it do?
- Where is it headquartered?
- Who are the main competitors?
- Has it been in the news lately? For what? Is that something you can leverage?
- If you are calling to talk IT/software, can you figure out what type of infrastructure the company has in place?
- Learn about the person you are calling. Linkedin is usually your best bet.
- What is the person’s background?
- Where did they go to school?
- Where did they work before?
- Do you have a common connection?
- Be clear about what is your value proposition
- What do you have to offer?
- Why should they care?
- Clearly outline next steps
- Ideally a call to understand their needs in more detail (if necessary, with a pre-sales person)
- Ask for introductions to other people that you may want to connect with
- If there is some interest worth exploring, then
- Set up next call (with a presales person if needed)
- Set the expectation for a face to face meeting where you will bring appropriate people AND ask the prospect to do the same
Sales does not have a magic formula. Contrary to popular belief the best sales people are often not the flashiest. The maxim “slow and steady wins the race” often is true in sales. Preparedness, more than anything else usually wins the bonus check.
Agree. Disagree. Or have another viewpoint. Would love to hear your thoughts.