Admit it. No salesperson in their right mind enjoys cold calling.
Thankfully the days of whipping out a phone book and calling all the listings under ElectricalSupply to see if any of them need your product are long over. But prospecting is still a big part of what we do – and there’s a few tactics that can make those calls warm and fuzzy — and most importantly — productive.
First of all, look at your most recently signed deal. Who are their competitors? Does your solution solve an industry-wide problem? Call the competitors and offer to discuss the benefits you’ve been able to provide. Businesses are always interested in what the rest of their segment is doing – and generally want to even the playing field.
When you read the business pages each day, look for companies who announce growth and structure changes that your product could support. Those articles frequently mention the name of the change manager. When reaching out, concentrate your communication on how you can solve upcoming issues and pave the way for a smooth transition.
While wooing your client, be sure to ask them where else they can see your solution being implemented. Not only will you learn a lot about their engagement, you’ll be able to make it clear before the deal is signed that you want a referral when it’s a success.
When calling competitors, make sure to be inquisitive instead of boastful. A quantifiable benefit is a great way to connect and stand out. With just a few sentences, you can casually show that you provide a benefit, care about their industry, and have a proven track record! A comment like this will go a long way:
“We’ve helped another electrical supply company organize their online inventory and saved them about ten hours a week. I learned a lot during the process and it occurred to me that what they experienced might not be a unique challenge. How do you handle your online inventory?”
When it comes to referrals, if a client has chosen to work with you already, it means you’ve gained their trust, and that means you’ve earned the right to ask some questions. You need to be fairly elegant in how you ask though. Genuine interest will get you a good way to the goal. I’ve found it beneficial to ask about your contact’s background. Have they always worked for XYZ Business? Where were they before? Did they enjoy it? Would they have benefitted from your solution in that role? They likely know who has filled their shoes and can introduce you.
If your client is established in their role and you’ve laid the groundwork to ask for a referral, it should be easy, but make sure to ask with confidence. Try something like “When we first started talking, you mentioned that our solution fixes a problem that XYZ Business also has. Would you mind introducing me to your counterpart there?”
Simply put, it’s no longer the marketing department’s job to fill your calendar. You’ve got to generate your own leads to stay at the front of the pack. And in a role where time is money, prepping before prospecting makes good use of yours – and theirs.