I got an email from Blake last week (a fellow planner and loyal TFB reader). He’s a really good, honest planner and knows that he can add a lot of value for his clients. He is meticulous and is always looking to improve his clients’ situations. In other words, he’s part of us good guys ;-). He told me that he was able to close almost everybody that he meets in a one-on-one conversation. The problem is that he would like to get more clients (who doesn’t want to make more money anyways, huh?). In our business, there are 2 ways to gain clients:
1- Referrals (from existing and happy clients)
2- Cold Calls
This is the same situation for most businesses in fact. You either get a reference from a buddy or client of yours or you pick up the phone and book a meeting by yourself. Life is easy when you get a referral since the potential client has been sold on you by someone he can trust. Therefore, he is willing to give you 2 super important things you need as an entrepreneur (advisor, salesmen, representative, etc):
1- Time (he will allow you to meet him)
2- An open mind (he will actually listen to what you have to say and might even ask questions to know more)
Ironically, this is exactly what you don’t have when you make a cold call. Most people don’t have enough time in a day to do what they enjoy doing the most (whatever it might be), so why the hell would they have time to listen to you? Chances are that you are distracting them from a very important task (according to them) when you call.
If you think you don’t have the time for someone who calls you, the first thing you think of is “how can I politely hang-up ASAP?”. The word “politely” is probably your only chance of having more than 30 seconds with the prospect. Some people just don’t care and will hang-up on the spot. For this type of client, I don’t have many tricks… but when I have more than 30 seconds, I’ve developed a few techniques to make my way through. I’m not an expert in cold calling and still have a lot to learn about it. On the other hand, I’m able to get an appointment every 4 calls I make. In all honesty, you should expect 1 appointment per 20 calls at first, then it will rapidly drop to 1 appt /10 calls and then can become better at selecting your prospects to hit a 20-25% batting average after a few months. My techniques don’t apply to all types of cold calling as I’m in a profession that offers high value services. I guess that most of these techniques would not work if you are a telemarketer selling credit card insurance! Here’s how I do it:
If you are not convinced that you can truly and genuinely help the person you are calling, don’t even bother dialing the phone number. You need to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. What’s in it for the client? Don’t answer this crucial question by the characteristics of your products and services. Answer this question with benefits for the clients. Don’t think about you, think about the client. What would make YOU change your mind about someone calling you? The very first thing is the confidence of that person who thinks that he can truly make your life better.
If you are not confident in your services/products, I suggest you check with other colleagues, your boss, a mentor to enhance this part of your offer. Without confidence, you won’t get a single appointment.
Prepare a Script But Don’t Over Prepare
Anxiety starts when you are about to pick-up the phone. This is when you “don’t feel ready” and want to practice again. It’s important to have a short script with a few “pick-up lines”. But don’t over practice your script. It has to be natural to avoid going on for 4 minutes without breathing and without letting your prospect talk. He won’t listen anyways. Your script should be split in 3 parts:
a) Who you are (Hello Mr. X, It Mike from XYZ situated at and I’m doing ABC)
This quick intro is just to tell your prospect that you are a real person working for a real company doing a real job. I personally ask my prospects how he is doing. This usually generates a small “fine” tainted by either a small interest but most of the time I know that the client is annoyed already. This is when I jump into the second part of my script:
b) What you are doing / what you are offering
This part must be less than 1.5 minutes if you want to make sure the client doesn’t lose interest and that you can ask him a question that he will answer (because he is still listening). The point in that 90 second timeframe is to go directly to what you do best (what’s in it for the client). It doesn’t really matter which point you want to highlight as long as you sound very confident and that your 90 seconds ends with a question. This question should lead to interaction with the client so you become more “human” and less “that annoying telemarketer”. You want to engage in a conversation and “open doors” which is part 3:
c) Asks questions to open doors
By asking questions of your prospect to know with whom he deals with, why he deals with them, if he has heard of “XYZ” strategy or products, if he knows how much it costs him, etc. The point is to get the prospect talking about his situation and note everything he says. With this information you should be able to open doors to an appointment. The door opening comes when the prospect gives a “weak” answer such as:
Why are you doing business with them?
– Because I’ve always been (meaning he never considered another option)
Have you heard of XYZ strategy / product that can help you do ABC?
– No, never heard of that (here’s your chance to explain what is it, make it sound interesting and to book an appointment to explain the whole strategy/product)
Do you know how much it costs you?
– Not really / It’s been a long time I haven’t check that / Yeah, it’s $$$ (You can then offer something cheaper in most cases)
When is the last time you met with your advisor? Did he check everything, not just the investments?
– I met him last week, 6 months ago, he just looked at my investments (now’s your chance to offer a global approach).
Are you convinced that your bank is offering you the most? Would you allow me to confirm that with you?
After you have opened at least one door, you can “close the call” by offering the following:
Here’s what I offer; you take 45 minutes to meet with me, I’ll even go to your office. Within 30 minutes, I’ll guarantee you 2 things:
– I’ll offer you something you never heard of
– You won’t be wasting your time with me
There is absolutely no obligation on your side. The worse that will happen is that you will have spent 45 minutes with a professional and will have a few questions for your own advisor to challenge him.
It won’t work all the time as many folks won’t answer your questions and you will be left with very little ammo to convince them to meet you. For those situations, I don’t have any tricks yet. But for those who give you a few more seconds to prove yourself, you will definitely hit a question that will open a door and will allow you to book your appointment. Then, the only thing that you need to do is to ask him a few more questions “in order to present the right thing for him and not waste his time”. You do that once the appointment is scheduled so the prospect will be willing to give you additional information.
All you need to do after that is to prepare a killer presentation!
How would you react if a professional (not a vacuum salesman) called you with that approach? Would you give him 90 seconds to prove his point?
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