Here’s a question I received this week from a reader…I’m sure many of you can relate:
“I realize no one is going to hand me a book of business that will make me the “Next Best Marketer”, and I’ve decided that to succeed I need to treat my “book” like it is my own business. Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve been “stirring the pot” and trying to find my rhythm in prospecting. I’ve managed to get my hands on some pretty good prospect lists, have cold-called about 100 companies, and have had closed zero new deals. I’m sure it could be done better! My “smile and dials” haven’t gone so well. At least 80% of the calls end in voicemail messages, and the times I’ve actually talked to a living, breathing person, I haven’t been able to capitalize. The problem, as I see it, is my market is very competitive and viewed as a commodity.”
Here’s my response….
All of the people he is contacting are already doing business with somebody. This means his number one objective is to practice what I refer to as: C+C=C=O=P
Continuity – Just keep on dialing and making contacts! Don’t give up, look for any angle and connection possible, but never start at the bottom of the food chain. Call the top. It’s not unusual for someone to take 6 months to even start cracking a prospect list and, more often, it can be 12 – 18 months. He should be contacting his prospects at least 2x per month. The key is to not be repetitious with voicemail messages. Many people leave too much information on a voicemail. Without going into detail, the message should consist of your name, phone number, and one short question that peaks the prospect’s interest.
Competence– There’s no reason for someone to switch until they see competence being demonstrated by the salesperson. This is best done through the continuity of the message and the knowledge that is being shared. It should not always be with phone calls, it should include a mix of emails, faxes, mail, etc.
Confidence – Only when the prospect feels confident will they allow you to have any of their business. Again, this is attained through the first two “C’s.”
The most common time to convert somone who is already doing business with someone else is when there’s some type of sudden disruption with their current supplier. The problem is that you never know when that is going to occur. That’s why it’s important to be tenacious with the continuity of phone calls, information, etc. to keep putting your name in front of them.
Surprisingly, cold-calling in this type of environment is easier than in a market where you have to also educate the customer and expose their pain. The big difference is cold-calling to prospects who are currently working with others means the total number of phone calls will be significantly higher and the lead-time to close a sale will be longer.
Work I’ve done with other companies who have dealt with this type of situation has shown that you can expect to have a prospect list 4x the size of what a typical salesperson would have if they were having to cold-call to create the pain and educate the customer.
Another technique that may help is to mail, email, fax, etc. one piece of industry information to the prospect every month. The goal is not to sell yourself, but to merely allow the prospect to realize how you can be viewed as an industry expert…… the game of continuity and competence.