Friday, January 07, 2005

THE FIRST FIVE SECONDS

Getting Better at the Start of the Sales Cycle

As promotional marketers, we all want fatter pipelines. What happens, however, when telemarketing qualifies a lead and turns it over to a sales team not ready to open the dialogue using contextual relevance? The lead gets off the hook and the rep reports back that the lead was not qualified. Now, it might well be that the lead was not qualified. But it could also be that the rep was not prepared to take the qualified lead forward.

We can all imagine the scene on the other end of the phone. The prospect accidentally takes the phone call instead of dumping us into voicemail. It’s not that they are rude, but just that the people we want to talk to are rather popular with all vendors. They get 25 calls a day from vendors and that could be a waste of their time. When we get them on the phone, they are immediately doing their best to get us off the phone. It is a gargantuan struggle of wits.

What we say in the first few seconds will determine if we can take a warm sales lead from telemarketing or a cold call that we are making into the pipeline.

There are two immediate paths – a product path or a solution path. Either way, should go through a relevant reference that proves we can address the customer’s situation and earn the right to get the first face-to-face meeting.

“Hello, my name is (Charles Dickens). Thanks for taking my call. I’ve been looking into the comments your CEO has made about improving distribution productivity being a high priority for the coming year. Do I have that information correct?

“Yes, distribution is one of our major initiatives.”

“We have done a lot of research in this area ourselves, including some interviews with agents who sell your services. We helped XYZ Company with solutions that improved their processes by 15%. I’d like to share some of this information with you. I will be in town next week. Would Wednesday or Thursday be best for you?”

“What company are you with?”

“I’m glad you asked. I am with Technology Systems. We have been bringing process improvement solutions to hundreds of clients around the world for the past 15 years. We are just coming off a record profit year. We’re doing great because we have clients who value the solutions we offer.”


What happened there?

We thanked the prospect because we genuinely appreciate it these days when a busy person takes time to pick up the phone. We did not start off with our company or our product, but instead tried to establish empathy and dialogue. We established a key metric along with an example of how we fixed a similar problem. Get them to tip off what their pain really is. Get the appointment.

This calls for doing the right research before the call. Get the story right. Get the approach right. Get the call objective right. Know your value proposition. Stay contextually relevant from beginning to close.

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