Don’t Make Another Embarrassing Phone Call to a Prospect until You Read These Facts.
“What did you say?”
“Oh, sorry John, I wasn’t talking to you. I just spilled a cup of coffee in my lap!”
The next sound was the dial tone from the phone call being disconnected.
“I think he just hung up on me! I’m calling the b@#$%& back!”
“Hey John…did we get disconnected?”
“Listen, I don’t have time to talk to reps that waste my time. Don’t contact me again.”
Another dial tone.
The year was 2003 and I was being trained to sell a new product in a new territory.
The sales rep, training me, was furious and ranted for 5 minutes, before he made another call to a prospect, while driving, and drinking coffee. The results were pretty much the same, one embarrassing phone call after another.
I must admit, I use to pick up the cell phone and make a random, thoughtless embarrassing phone call to a prospect.
Until I got tired of being embarrassed and hung up on.
I vowed it was time to take prospecting phone calls seriously.
Here’s the truth….making a hasty business phone call is just plain laziness. It reveals to the prospect that you’re not serious about him or the call you’re making.
Think back on an embarrassing phone call you made. Chances are it was made on the fly and ill prepared.
You and I cannot afford to make these phone call mistakes.
I understand the hours of windshield time driving from appointment to appointment. It may seem like a fabulous time management strategy to use drive time to make follow up phone calls…but it’s not.
My question to you is this…and be honest…Can you truly be effective listening and responding to the prospect while driving? How many times have you driven through a cell tower dead zone and the cell phone disconnects? And how many times have you scrambled to call back only to get voice mail?
Today, when I ride along on sales appointments while coaching a sales rep, invariably the rep will pick up the cell phone and make a few calls. And in most cases, the rep has an embarrassing phone call moment.
Here are 5 facts about making an effective prospect call instead of an embarrassing phone call.
- Know the right time to call. This can be easily solved by asking the gatekeeper what work hours does Mr. Prospect keep. You can also ask to be added to his calendar. Many times with high level executives their assistants keep their calendars. Also, call before office hours or after hours to avoid an uncooperative gatekeeper! Often times your prospects are in before everyone else and the last to leave.
- Prepare. Stop the random phone calls. Stop winging it when making business calls. One way you can increase your close rate is to actually schedule phone work into your day and I don’t mean while you’re driving. Have a prepared plan in place on what you want to discuss with the prospect. Make the call brief and know the outcome you want to achieve. Plan the right words and tone.
- Wear a headset while calling, or earphones for two reasons. First, It diminishes any background noise. Second, it’s a fact that our communication skills improve when our hands are free to use gestures while talking. Hence..one reason why making a phone call while driving is a bad idea!
- Take breaks to place calls. If you’re a road warrior, like I use to be, take a couple of breaks in-between driving to the next appointment. Find an area where you can park for 10 minutes and make a few planned out phone calls to prospects. Plan your appointment days to include these breaks. Avoid making phone calls in noisy restaurants. Consider what the noise sounds like to person on the other end of the phone! It’s very distracting. (I have a story to share with you about this very thing towards the end of this article)
- Be prepared for voice mail. When you do, leave a brief, concise, well rehearsed voice message. Do not wing voice messages. Just like preparing for the phone call, you must also prepare what you’ll say in a voice message. Always prepare a compelling message then practice, practice, practice. I cannot emphasis this enough.
- If the prospect calls you back while driving, tell him you’re driving and that you’re pulling over to take his call. Do not attempt to have the phone conversation while driving. Need I say it again…It’s too distracting for you and the prospect.
- From a safety perspective here’s a startling fact from the Boston Globe…”About one in four drivers involved in a crash in recent months around the country were using a smartphone within one minute before the accident occurred, according to a new analysis of data from hundreds of thousands of drivers’ phones.” (source)
Some of these facts may seem laughably common sense. Yet one of the most common comments I receive when teaching them is “I knew that and I should be doing it, but I’m not.”
It’s very easy to overlook the obvious, isn’t it?
The most important point here is that every one of these facts are based on my experience not theory.
So you may continue to believe making phone calls while driving is an excellent multi-tasking skill, but if you do, you’re making it all about you.
When you wing it, do it on the fly, or call unprepared, it’s extremely obvious to the prospect that you’re doing what’s best for you.
BECAUSE if you truly have the prospect’s best interest in mind, you’ll give him the attention, prepared focus and respect he deserves.
When giving phone calls the proper prepared focus, it elevates your status from just another sales rep to sales professional. And the difference is extremely obvious to the person receiving your call.
Here’s another obvious truth….When you take phone calls seriously, prospects will take you seriously.
Still not convinced? Here’s another example.
A few years ago, I attended a webinar on selling. (I’m always the student!)
The organizer and host (a well known sales guru) was conducting the webinar (poorly I might add) while ordering a cup of coffee and bagel, chatting to his girlfriend. He didn’t realize his mic was live.
The background noise on his end was extremely distracting, not to mention, he was constantly repeating himself and losing his train of thought throughout the webinar. It was obvious to all the attendees, he was just winging it in the middle of a noisy coffee shop! I lost total respect for the man because the indirect message he conveyed was, my investment of time, money and attention didn’t mean a thing to him.
Every touch point in the sales process conveys a message. And before you make the touch point, pause and ask yourself, “what message do I want to convey?” Instead of trying to impress the prospect, impress upon him that you value his time, attention and investment.
Become disciplined about making prospecting calls more effective through planning, practice and being distraction free for the sake of your prospect.
Put the obvious in this article to the test for yourself. When you do, you’ll have an increase in sales, like I did.
Now, I have one last question….if you’re a road warrior how do you fit in prospecting calls while on the road? Will you leave your suggestions in the comment section?