By Ron S. LaVine, MBA, President and Founder of Accelerated Sales Training >
Using the phone successfully to sell our products and services to potential new clients often requires us to navigate through a labyrinth of people to find the correct individual(s) who can provide the information we seek. Whether for pre-sales research or to determine who has the ability to acquire our products and services, here is a quick summary of proven techniques for achieving these objectives.
Know the purpose of your call in advance. Before placing a call, have a clear and specific objective or purpose of what you are trying to achieve.
Prepare a list of questions which need answers. To stay on track and meet your objective, prepare a list of questions before your call.
When you don’t have an obvious contact point, Purchasing, Investor Relations or the President’s office are all good places to begin. (Calling into multiple departments in a company or organization can not only provide the information or person sought but also give a unique overview of how a company’s internal processes work.
This can be useful information if further calls are required to the same or similar companies. As these individuals are usually very busy, having a short, concise statement prepared, such as “Who is responsible for making decisions about…?” This makes possible a quick answer.
Take advantage of the corporate hierarchy. When being referred from a higher level person (such as the President or their office) to a lower level person, use the higher person’s name or office to lend credibility and importance to your request. For example: “Mr. Smith’s office referred me to you regarding …”
Ask for permission to speak. After briefly introducing yourself and your company, ask for permission to speak, before explaining the reason for the call.
Set up a telephone appointment. If the person sounds busy, make an appointment by asking when would be a good time to schedule a call.
Use the optional choice methodology. Ask which is better, Monday or Tuesday, morning or afternoon, ten or eleven a.m. The result will be a person who is expecting the call.
Listen to what is going on in the background. If a phone or distraction occurs in the background, politely inquire whether or not that situation needs to be dealt with and offer to be placed on hold. This shows respect for the other person and is greatly appreciated.
Practice the Q/A/F/Q technique. Ask a Question. Wait for an answer. Feedback what was said to you to be sure you have a clear understanding of what was said. Finally, ask another Question to direct the conversation into the area where you want it to go. The person asking the questions controls the direction of the call.
Finally, and most importantly, is to be persistent when making your calls. If you remain persistent, you will most likely find the person who has the information you seek or who is in a position to acquire your products and services.