Getting Prepared to Make the Call

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Preparing to make a call begins with learning about your client — specifically, what your client needs, and how you can meet those needs. Before you even pick up the phone you need to have a clear impression of how not only you’re opening, but the following few stages of the conversation are going to go.

In preparing this way you will be able to anticipate various reactions from the potential customer – enthusiasm, caution, reluctance etc. – and tailor your responses to their questions or expressions of reluctance. This will ensure that you can mold your selling tactics to get the best results time and again.

As a salesperson, you will be required to make many phone calls to potential customers, whether they are “cold calls” or “warm”. The object of the calls will be to try and get a sales agreement in place as soon as possible, so you need to get as many facts nailed down as possible. Having a pen and paper nearby is obviously handy, and you should then decide on a strategy for going forward with the call. The more you know about the person to whom you are speaking, the nature of their business, and what you can do for them, the better for any eventual sales pitch.

Identifying Your Contact Person

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There are many ways to find a contact person. Perhaps the most valuable is through networking and referrals. A referral from a third party gives you instant credibility, especially if the third party is well-known and respected by the potential client. 

In looking for a contact person, it is often worthwhile to go through a “prequalifying” process. This involves doing some research to determine if the contact is really the appropriate person to talk to and if the contact’s business actually has a need for your products. 

There is no point wasting your time chasing contacts that won’t do you any good. Their position in the company and their closeness to the decision maker will decide this. Glean as much information from the third party as is appropriate.

When you first speak to the contact it will be appropriate to let them know who referred you to them: “Hello, I’m from _______and I’ve been given your name by_______ from _______. I was wondering if you had a few moments to discuss _______”. By letting them know that you have dealt with and supplied a person they trust, you will immediately become more trustworthy in their eyes. Don’t go straight into a pitch, but make preliminary enquiries to strengthen your sales prospects. 

Performing a Needs Analysis

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Clients need many more things than you might be planning to sell them. The more you can do for a client, the more you will be seen as a valuble partner. Here are some suggestions about how it might be possible to meet some other client needs:

  • Information. You might be able to act as a consultant to a client, providing information about the latest developments in your field.
  • Training. If you provide a product that requires some training, make training part of the package.
  • Financing. If your company does not provide financing, put the client in touch with banks that do.
  • Community. Communities often grow up around particular products, especially high tech products. Introduce clients to users groups or trade organizations.
  • Personnel. You probably know a number of capable people who are thinking about changing jobs. Helping a client find skilled employees can benefit everyone involved. If the people you recommend are hired, they will become some of your strongest advocates.

Creating Potential Solutions

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Providing solutions is a matter of finding ways to address the problems identified through the questions you ask a client. If the client’s problems are fairly simple, you may be able to offer a solution on the spot. For more complex problems, you may need some time to study the situation before you come up with a way to deal with it. In addressing these more difficult problems, you might take the same approach you would use with a problem in your own organization. Assemble a group of knowledgeable staff and ask them to brainstorm solutions. Find the best ideas and implement them. A successful research of the problem will help you build a good reputation. 

Case Study

George stumbled into the office with a mountain of files in his hands. Trevor gave him a hand and asked what in the world happened. George pulled out his magnifying glass and inspected the files up close and personal and explained that he wanted research on a potential client to find out what they needed. Trevor explained to George that he didn’t have to become a private eye to learn about a client.  He had to do to learn the art of conversation and Trevor just so happened to be an expert. Trevor walked George through the ins and outs and they discovered hidden gems about the client without being left to hoist a mountain of files to find it. Trevor showed him how a colorful conversation could gain him a wealth of information without a catastrophe to uncover it.