Here’s a quick checklist of classic telephone prospecting mistakes. Are you making any of them? If so, take action to rectify!
1) Opening the call with “How are you today?”
This smacks of telemarketing — and bad telemarketing at that. This is not a question you ask a stranger, unless you want to put them on the defensive immediately.
2) Asking “Are you busy?”
Of course they’ll say “Yes” and you’ll feel the pressure to cut your call short. Instead, say, “I know you’re busy, so I’ll get right to the reason I’m calling.” After you state your reason and the call opens up a little, then you can follow up with, “Is now a good time to talk?”
3) Assuming the prospect is a match for your business and you’re a match for their situation.
Qualify a little over the phone before you try to set an appointment. The buyer will appreciate your careful approach to making sure you’re not wasting their time.
4) Thinking you can wing it.
Have a clear goal in mind for the call and your likely path to get there. Think through your calls and potential outcomes before you pick up the phone.
5) Reading from a script.
It’s okay to write out your scripts, but then you need to own them through consistent practice and real-life application. If you rely too much on your script, you’ll have no flexibility. You have to strike a balance between ad-libbing and sounding scripted.
6) Talking too fast.
Slow down! Talking too fast can make you appear nervous or lacking in confidence. When leaving your phone number on a voicemail, take your time and leave the number twice … slowly … so the prospect can write it down.
7) Using the “alternative choice” close.
Don’t say, “How about tomorrow at 3:00 or Tuesday at 11:00?” Just ask the prospect to pull out their calendar and match it against yours. You don’t want to trick them into setting an appointment with you. That’s a no-show waiting to happen.
8) Going on an appointment without confirming it a few days in advance.
Consider emailing or mailing something of value before the appointment. A report that teaches the prospect how to buy what you sell is always appreciated. For example: “7 Tips to Selecting the Right X Product for You.”
9) Expecting one email or one phone call to result in an appointment.
You must have a series of value-oriented reasons to stay in touch. Timing is everything and it often takes five or more contacts to generate an appointment. Don’t give up too easily!
10) Expecting time for calling prospects to magically appear on your calendar.
Block off enough time each and every week for prospecting calls. Treat that appointment with yourself like a client appointment. Don’t move it.
In summary, be thoughtful, prepared, and systematic with your prospecting calls. Think through your processes and the words you plan to use. The work you do is too important to not put your best foot forward from the very beginning!