by Sue Novicki
Every week, I am on sales calls with our clients, sometimes on the phone, sometimes in person.
When working with a seller on a prospect and getting ready to initiate the call or a meeting, we focus on preparation. This includes understanding the pertinent information about the category of business as well as with the actual company.
One of the most important aspects of the call is to introduce ourselves and to gain credibility immediately so we can initiate a conversation with the decision-maker to unearth his or her needs.
Too many times the seller wants to immediately get into the selling mode before understanding what the client needs to accomplish – if, in fact, he or she is spending money.
One of the biggest “faux pas” in a call, if we are calling from a radio or TV group, is introducing oneself from the station’s call letters. (Of course if you are calling the owner of a small retailer in the area, it makes sense to introduce yourself in that manner, but our focus here is calling on larger companies.) If we introduce ourselves from the call letters, many times we are immediately told to contact their agency before having a chance to open up a conversation. Instead, introduce yourself from your parent group.
Ideally, we are initiating this call with a Regional Sales Manager or someone from Brand or Marketing and we need them to understand that we “put together fully integrated sales driven, or traffic driving, programs, and have worked with companies such as …” This will open up the conversation and garner our credibility immediately.
However, if we start off the conversation with the call letters, we end the call before we can start it. And some times we are calling someone who does not know the call letters, so we end up confusing the decision-maker instead of opening the door we need to open. We will, of course, we talk about the power of the stations, websites, print etc. as we progress with the conversation.
Last, but certainly not least, we need to make sure we aren’t immediately selling or selling too soon. Too often, sellers immediately launch into the pitch, without understanding whether or not it makes sense for the decision-maker, or if it needs to be customized. We might find out during the need analysis that they are focused on a completely different time period, or that they want to reach a different target customer than we initially assumed at the beginning of the conversation.
Selling something immediately reduces the chance of closing the business. Instead, have ideas ready to discuss based on the research that you have gathered about the company. These ideas could include a program or event that your group has to sell, but treat it just that way – ” I have some ideas in mind based on what I have read about your company, but first I would like to ask you a few questions to better understand what you are trying to accomplish moving into 2012″.
It is amazing how productive a call can be when we are unearthing needs instead of pitching in the initial call.