Getting the Appointment

Getting the Appointment

You are in sales. Your team’s marketing efforts have resulted in a constant stream of interest from prospective clients and your phone is ringing off the hook with requests for meetings. As great as this may sound, it rarely happens. More likely, you have gotten some new contacts and meetings through email campaigns, networking efforts, and referrals.  Still, these efforts alone probably have not filled out your schedule. The fact is, no matter how successful your marketing and referral efforts are, you still need to occasionally pick up the phone, make the call, and ask for the appointment. Some people may see this as “cold-calling” and view the practice negatively. True, a call to someone you do not know well can come across as intrusive, and if not handled carefully you can send the wrong signal. There are other challenges as well: navigating gatekeepers, dealing with apathy, creating a sense of urgency, dealing with you own discomfort and fear of rejection… it’s no wonder we make excuses and put it off!  If you understand the principles of calling to get an appointment and couple them with planning and practice, most of these problems can be minimised. Tip 1: Soften the ground. Making a “cold-call” is never your best option. You should always try to turn a cold contact into a warm contact before you try a phone call. Do you have any mutual contacts? Are you connected on LinkedIn? If so, do you share any groups, interests, education or employment history? Ideally you should get an introduction from someone you both know. If that is not possible, see if...

Tips for Building Client Trust

Trust must be earned. It is not an automatic feature of a relationship that is only lost through intentionally bad behaviour. When developing any new relationship there are certain behaviours that will build trust and certain behaviours that will destroy it. The problem is we may not always be aware which side we are on. Here are five tips that can help you reinforce those actions that move you toward trust and eliminate those actions that do not. Tip 1: Perception is not always reality When meeting a potential client, differentiate between their perceived and real needs. There may be some solutions or services the client thinks are needed. Their logic maybe driven by incorrect information or old data. It is your responsibility to help them uncover and accept their real needs. This builds trust when you successfully separate out their misconceptions and deliver insight. Done effectively, you will guide the client away from what is keeping them up at night, to what should be keeping them up at night. As a result, the client will appreciate and trust you more because they understand that order for this to happen, you must listen well, be prepared and deeply understand their business, market and industry. Tip 2: Give advance notice Don’t cold call. A potential client should not receive an unexpected phone call. Send a letter or email, or get someone to arrange an introduction – anything that prepares the ground. If the potential client replies that he / she is not interested, that’s OK. At least they have considered your approach and its timing. Write back and continue the...

Closing a Client Meeting

Closing a client meeting effectively means more than just summarising key talking points and committing to next steps. The good closing is also a time demonstrate your focus and interest in what the client has been saying to you – both verbally and non-verbally. If you are able to reflect back to the client your deeper understanding of their needs, you will improve your client’s commitment and greatly increase rapport. Leaving Time If you have checked with the client and have an hour-long meeting, be sure to leave 15 to 20 minutes to cover anything important and to close the meeting effectively. After you have built trust, ascertained and confirmed a client’s situation you need to make sure there is time to explore a suitable way forward and seek commitment. It is not the time to launch a hard sell. Rather, it is about motivating commitment and acknowledging that clients buy on their own schedule, when they are ready. This is not about your sales process, but about their buying process. Stop Thinking, and Listen “To listen well is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation” Chinese Proverb When approaching the close of a meeting, you will need to summarise key elements of what was covered and the way forward. This requires effective listening on your part to ensure you have the data you need to wrap up effectively. Besides lack of interest, the biggest barrier to effective listening is thinking. No one can listen – really listen – and think at the same time. Many things may...

Three Tips for Sales Pipeline Management

If you are like most sales professionals you should be familiar with the concept of a “pipeline management”. Yet chances are pretty good that you are not actively managing an up-to-date pipeline. It may take only a moment and a little discipline to organise your contacts into 2-4 lists. From there, you can apply three simple tips to reboot your pipeline, smooth out the sales flow and maximise potential opportunities. Tip 1: Remember GIGO If you’re not concerned about the companies in your prospecting section of the pipeline, then, by default, you are probably not too concerned about the clients you may eventually have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. This is GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. If you select the wrong prospects, they may end up being poor or problem clients. You may win the business, but it could be a hollow victory. Think carefully about your ideal client base, then carefully-identify prospective clients that fit the mould. Tip 2: Don’t Switch Off The more clients you secure, the less time there is for sales and-marketing. When-results hit a peak then business development activities drop-considerably. Although this won’t have an immediate impact on your business, it will have in the future. The only question is when. You could work harder, recruit extra staff, reduce your chargeable hours to focus more on sales activities, but it may be too late. This particular trap occurs because you’re only measuring results. The key is to take all business development activities as ongoing and to keep reviewing your pipeline. Tip 3: Hold onto the warm lead Even when you’ve done...