Friday, June 16, 2006

Sales Call #1 - How to Get the First Appointment

The first step in closing a sale is getting the first appointment. It seems like it would be so easy...

Step 1: Pick up the phone
Step 2: Ask for your contact person
Step 3: Set a time to meet
Step 4: Hang up

But it's not that easy! Voice mail screens out the best of us and now many clients prefer email instead of phone calls... which means it's even easier for them to say, "No, I'm unable to meet with you, Ms. Salesperson."

So here are some tips to jazz up your success rate for getting that first appointment:

  • Get to the Point. When cold calling a prospect don't patronize him by making small talk like, "Hi, how are you today?" This will raise a red flag that you are trying to sell something and a busy person will tune you out right away. Instead, begin the conversation by introducing yourself and stating exactly why you are calling. By getting to the point quickly you will come across honest, sincere and considerate of his time.

  • Email, too. If you have the prospects email address then follow up with an email. You might write something like, "Hi Mr. Prospect, I just left you a voicemail to ask if you have a few minutes next week to discuss your janitorial service. Do you have a few minutes next Tuesday or Wednesday?"

  • Show Up. It's harder to say "No" to a request if someone asks you face to face. Find an excuse to call on the prospect in person to ask for the appointment.

  • Bring Gifts. Provide a gift that is inexpensive, usable and reflects your business. For example, an office supply rep might say, "Hi, I was in the area and wanted to bring you a few of these new 'slimline' staplers. Would you happen to have a few minutes in the next week or so for us to discuss your office supply contract?" Better yet, if there is a Starbuck's nearby stop by and purchase at least 2 coffees. One for your prospect and 1 for the gatekeeper!

  • Don't be a Stalker. An unreturned phone call doesn't mean the prospect isn't interested or that they won't buy from you. I have closed $100,000+ deals with clients that never returned one phone call. Repeated phone calls make you sound desperate and are annoying. Come up with different ways of establishing contact with a prospect.

    For example, you might send an introductory letter a week before you call a prospect on the phone and another letter a week after your first phone attempt. Or, locate a newspaper or business journal article that applies to the prospect and mail it to them along with your business card. I even broke down one time and sent a cookie bouquet to a prospect as a last ditch effort to get an appointment - it worked!

  • Go to Lunch. Everyone has to eat. Invite a prospect to lunch and just spend that time visiting with them about their business. Don't make it a major sales presentation about your company and if the person is of the opposite sex do not make it seem like a date! Don't flirt and always keep the conversation professional and business like. Offer to pick your prospect up at his office and let him choose the restaurant. Have a restaurant in mind in case your prospect can't decide where to go. Pick up the tab and buy a to-go dessert for the administrative assistant back at the office.

1 comment:

Tom Burke said...

This is a great post! I'm glad I went back and looked through the archives; this post is just what I need to motivate me to start making the calls and hitting the streets for my own business. Thanks!