Cold callers, unite! Get more business by Disqualifying the duds
ONCE UPON A TIME, A phone call was like a message from the heavens. Imagine -- someone else needed to reach you so urgently and desperately that he used a newfangled signal that could travel hundreds of miles in a split second!
Only problem: That was in 1898. In 1998, people actually, buy devices whose sole function is to block incoming calls. So, it's no wonder that selling by phone is tougher than ever. You're doing battle with not only your natural-born competitors but also the thousands of other people out there using the phone to land their own sales.
The solution? Be different. Stop trying to persuade people to say yes. In an era when you can cover more territory by phone in an hour than previous generations could in a week or even a month, it makes no sense to waste time on dead wood.
There's an easier way to play. If the customer isn't interested, neither are you.
Just move on, and on, and on. This is about prospecting -- the essential step that must precede selling for every successful telephone marketer. A prospector, by definition, is looking for something of value. In this case, that's someone who is ready to start the sales process, a hot prospect. Other prospects aren't hot ... yet. So, you have to fan the flame a bit. Still others will turn out to be duds, and no amount of stoking will fire them up. The trick is to classify them quickly and take the appropriate action, even if it means saying "Thankyouverymuch" (don't even waste time separating those words!) and hanging up the phone. Here's how to sort 'em so that you can divide and conquer.
A-LIST: THE WHITE-HOT PROSPECT
DEFINITION: Anyone who is interested, has a need for the product, is the decision maker or on the team, and is qualified to spend the money ... right this very moment!
BATTLE PLAN: How can you find out whether someone is interested? Ask. And how do we find out whether he has money? Again, ask. Will he lie to you? Possibly. But for now, assume that people will tell you the truth.
Start by qualifying for interest; then, if appropriate, qualify for authority to make a decision and, finally, for money. Here's an example (for a computer store).
To qualify for interest: "Would you like to take a look at some information on the new network server we just got in?"
To qualify for authority: "If you liked what you saw, would you alone be able to make a decision, or would others be involved?"
To qualify for money: "Lease payments for the server probably wouldn't run more than $400 a month. If you liked the idea, could you handle that?"
If you get yeses to all three, you're talking to a white-hot prospect. Start the selling process over the phone, or set an appointment for as close to right now as possible. If the appointment is more than two or three business days away, confirm by phone the day before; if it's four or more days away, confirm in writing by fax or letter, then reconfirm by phone the day before. Don't let this one get away.
B-LIST: ABOUT TO CATCH FIRE
DEFINITION: Anyone who is interested, has a need for the product, is the decision maker or on the team, and is qualified for money now but asks to see more information.
BATTLE PLAN: Send the material today, or tomorrow at the latest. Schedule for a callback in seven clays (if info was sent by mail) or two days (if it was sent by e-mail or fax). Expect that one or two of every five B-List prospects will be white-hot when recontacted; one or two will be duds (they don't answer the phone or return calls); and one or two will be reclassified as C-List (see below).
C-LIST: WARMING UP
DEFINITION: A prospect who indicates interest but who won't have the money or power to decide until a known later time. Example: You're selling financial services, and a prospect says, "Sounds good, but I don't have any money now."
BATTLE PLAN: You respond, "Do you expect to have some funds available to invest or reinvest in the next six months?" If the answer is yes:
1. Send the requested information.
2. Ten days later, send a letter introducing your firm and describing the benefits (not the features) of your product.
3. Ten days after that, send information about yourself (how long you've been an accountant, how long you've been selling photocopiers -- anything to personalize the pitch). Describe still more benefits (not features) of your product. (By sending three letters quickly, you'll have a good chance of being remembered later.)
4. Send a reminder or make a low-key call every month until the money is due or a decision can be made.
5. Call back two to four weeks before the opportunity date -- that is, the given date when the prospect's situation was expected to improve. Determine whether your prospect is now A-List, B-List, C-List with a later date, or downgraded to D (see below).
D-LIST: ON THE BACK BURNER
DEFINITION: A prospect who expresses mild interest but cannot be pinned down as to when funds will be available or a decision can be made. When an attempt is made to qualify for funds or a decision-making opportunity, a typical response is "Just send me the information."
BATTLE PLAN: Follow steps one through three above. Thirty days later, call and requalify. This call is critical; if you don't make it, you can wind up with a list full of duds who are not interested and are unqualified (not to mention unpleasantly rude). If the prospect does not upgrade to A-List in this stage, discard him unless he responds affirmatively when asked whether you should keep sending information. If he opts to remain on your mailing list, call again every 90 days to requalify until he's ready to upgrade.
And what if he asks to stop receiving information?
Bill Good is chairman of Bill Good Marketing, Inc., a South Jordan, Utah-based firm that has trained tens of thousands of salespeople in prospecting skills. He can be reached at 800-678-1480 or www.billgood.com.
From Prospecting Your Way to Sales Success, by Bill Good. Copyright [C] 1986, 1997 by Bill Good. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Success Holdings Company, LLC
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group
The reports of telemarketing's death have been greatly exaggerated, according to the "2004 Response Rate Report" from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Even after the creation of the National Do
How to Tell the Difference between Winners and Losers
Recently, a client asked me what qualities make for a really good telemarketer. As you might imagine, we got into quite a discussion. As with
Here are some practical suggestions that will help you make the most of your telemarketing efforts in the coming year.
1. Establish daily goals of how many calls you are going to make. If you have
What ingredients go into a successful cold calling
A program that most people need or want, a good script, a
lot of leads, and a great attitude! But where do you get
these things and h
A telemarketing expert recommends four different prospecting techniques.
Using the phone to sell a product or service is relatively inexpensive. So whether you're doing the calling in-house or hir