Time your sales call

Making a direct sales call to a prospect is still something that may well play a major part in the way you facilitate sales and as such you want to catch your prospect at their desk, in a receptive mood, and without a secretary or voicemail barriers. To do this it is likely that before or after official office hours (9am-5pm) is most likely. Not only are these times the most productive for a lot of decision makers, but they might be more open to having a discussion.

I’ve yet to find any data regarding the best day to make the call however, some claim that Monday mornings and Friday evenings are not ideal. I would disagree! From my experience is that both these days can work well if you play the game!

i.e At such moments, prospects are indeed likely to be concerned with other matters, but that pressure makes them want to get rid of you quickly and since the general rule is that they are not rude, the quickest and easiest route “out” for them is to give you what you want; an appointment. Try it!

On a more serious note, I would avoid making prospecting phone calls in the central part of the day as people may well be harder to reach as they might be out of the office, at lunch etc. You might well reach the dreaded answerphone so have a strategy to decide on about how to overcome it. I’ve written some advice on the answerphone in a previous post if you need some advice.

Whatever times and days you trial, you may well find your own pattern that works for you and to give yourself the best chance of getting that meeting, always be courteous, friendly, professional and honest.

What sometimes really helps this type of call is having something to discuss like a brochure or a sales aid that you have sent in advance of the call as you can use this as a bit of an ice breaker, but what form should a brochure take?

This could open a can of worms, but I’ve written about how to get the best from a company brochure in a previous article. if you need some tips.

 

Sales and marketing – you CAN do it!

I’ve written a number of posts associated with sales and marketing, but Bath Marketing Consultancy has had a number of meetings recently with clients and prospects who have indicated that boosting sales is their key requirement and I think it is important that we examine how the 2 initiatives interact.

Sales is defined by Wikipedia as – 8e34c-sales-marketing-funnel

A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. Signalling completion of the prospective stage, it is the beginning of an engagement between customer and vendor or the extension of that engagement.

Marketing is defined by Wikipedia as –

Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of selling the product or service. It is a critical business function for attracting customers.

To me sales, therefore, is an outcome of marketing. i.e sales is something that happens where marketing is the continuous process that facilitates it. Yes, marketing can and does play a major part in influencing a companies’ sales, but simply “doing some marketing” is not an instant route to increased sales! Marketing is very much an ongoing element to your business that has a start, a middle but no end.

However, what I would suggest is that, if your company simply wants more sales, you look at the offer you are making to the market first to make sure that the way in which you market the company will make a real and positive impact to your sales. Questions to ask yourself could well be……

Does the market you are talking to really exist?
Do some street and online research if need be to see what your target actually wants. After all, there is no point in making an amazing product that no one will really want (think Dragons Den!)

What is your brand saying about?
Are you coming across incorrectly? Don’t have a quirky logo with a wacky graphic if you are a more corporate type of company.

Is the look and identity really and truly reflective?
Don’t make false claims or say anything you cannot substantiate – “we provide the best service in Somerset….”

Is your USP clear?
Make sure you outline the reasons for people to work with you/buy from you

What platforms are you using to promote your company?
Where are you talking to your audience? There is no point in running a bus inner campaign when your target market are unlikely to use public transport.

What style and/or design you use?
Design is very subjective so don’t get too close to the design. After all, it is unlikely you are your own target audience.

What method and what frequency?
Are you advertising your company/product in the wrong magazine or maybe only advertising twice a year and therefore, are not building up brand awareness.

What are your competitors doing?
You are likely to be releasing your message into a noisy market; make sure you are heard and keep a close eye on your enemies!

Are there likely to be seasonal fluctuations that influence decisions?
An example of which could be a decrease in market size due to a national holiday period

Does each platform require a different approach?
It isn’t often that “one size fits all” and you need to make sure that the platform you use to market yourself is saying the right thing to the right audience. Consumers want to feel special so cut your cloth accordingly!

Is your pricing structure clear and justifiable?
Too cheap and people will be suspicious or not value what you are offering. Too expensive and people will form the wrong opinion of you.

The above are not the full suite of questions I’d want to know the answers to, but try them on yourself, talk to a marketing company who could then put a strategic marketing plan together………………….which will help sales!

 

How to cope with rejection!

When touting for business, do not underestimate the benefit of picking up the phone. We all know how thick skinned you have to be to undertake this sort of activity, but, with preparation and a calm head, you can really make your mark and experience good returns from making a cold call.
What I thought I would do in this post is put together a way of dealing with some of the most common “rejections” you will encounter when making the “cold call” as a way of helping you feel more confident about making one.
Avoid rejection

So……what is the most common objection made to the cold caller?

In my experience, it is the “I am happy with my current company.” NEVER say otherwise or try and put down the existing supplier. A way of opening the door is to say “Fine, they are a good company and I know of them. However, I’d simply like to meet you to show you our new services so that in the future, you are in the best position possible to evaluate between agencies……”
Secondly, another main objection I have encountered is the “I don’t have the budget” reply when asking for a meeting. Again, acknowledge this objection, but counter it by saying something along the lines of “I take your point and appreciate budgets everywhere are not as they used to be, but we have made some changes in the way we price our services and I think that, when we meet, you will be pleasantly surprised at how competitive we are.”
Thirdly, the next in line is usually, the “I am too busy” objection. A reply could be “I understand that diaries can be very busy at this time of year, but mine is open for 3 months so how about we put something in for 3 months time and speak nearer the time? That way we will both be able to clear the decks and hopefully be less busy.”
Fourthly there is the old “put something in the post” reply when asking for a meeting. What I would do is let the prospect know that your services are tailored (as Bath Marketing Consultancy‘s are!) so you would prefer to meet up even it is just briefly to find out more about……..”
Fifthly, and by no means lastly in terms of it use, is the “I’m not in the market” response. My suggestion would be to flatter the person at the other end of the phone and say “I would have been incredibly fortunate to catch you at the exact time you were reviewing your XXXXX, but there are several new aspects to what i do that I would like to make you aware of for the time when you are reviewing.”
There are many more including getting passed the dreaded pa/secretary or answerphone (see my previous post on this http://www.themarketingexpert.net/2010/12/overcoming-dreaded-answerphone.html) but the above represent what I feel are the most common.
Hope they help.

Overcoming the dreaded answerphone

voicemail message

How many times do you pluck up the courage to make a sales call either as a cold call or as a follow up and you are met with the answerphone?? It is definitely one of my pet hates as there is no industry standard procedure with regards to what to do and how to deal with it…! Calling at the best time when answerphone might not be on is definitely one of the key objectives, but knowing when this is is hard, in fact it is pretty impossible.

So………..how do you not only meet, but actually beat the dreaded voicemail?

Certainly the nervous “Hello xxxx, this is yyyy and I would like to speak to you re zzzz and my number is 01225 xxxxx ” is likely to have limited if not any effect at all. After all, how many of us have actually called back someone who is obviously selling something?

But how about giving this a go…………when the answerphone beep sounds, you deliver your script in a clear and steady voice, spelling your name etc, but, emphasizing that, if you do not hear from this person by a specific date, you will call again. This is not meant as some sort of threat!
As you cannot “close” in this situation, you have to give specific details of when you will call back so that you can try and achieve your goal of making an appointment. When you call again…..as I am sure you will have to……you open by referring to the previous message. If need be, repeat the process and make a joke of it!

If this situation continues, make each message more lighthearted and emphasize the importance of the chat you are looking to have. Maybe even drop in the odd benefit the call will bring to the person. In my experience, this procedure should result in actually speaking to the required person within about 4 or 5 calls and it is actually possible to develop a sort of “virtual” relationship.

This is not pesteting. This process is about you overcoming hurdles/obsticles that are in your way. But, be warned, if the prospects does actually call you back, make sure you are fully prepared and know who he or she is. This might sound obvious, but I know from bitter experience that, not recognising a persons name when they call back and treating it like a sales call can actually undo all the good work you have put in!


Bath Marketing’s next post could be on the answers you can give to questions like “who are you” and/or how to fill your diary. What do you think?