Prospecting is back! Who would’ve thought that good ole traditional prospecting and picking up the phone to proactively call (and interrupt) prospects (without permission) would become so popular again? Heck, for all the abuse and lies heaped upon prospecting and prospectors the past five years, I’m surprised that we even have phones anymore let alone that there’s now this great desire to learn how to use them effectively 🙂
Am I being extreme? Kinda. A little. Maybe. Reality is that I could write an entire post, probably an entire book, making fun of the nonsense that’s been preached, consumed and passed off as “new sales truth” this decade. But I promised you a series of articles that will provide powerful, practical tips to help sellers become more effective using the phone to secure meetings, so I’ll stop the potshots at today’s nouveaux sales “experts” (charlatans) and get down to business.
Mindset and Attitude
What we believe has a huge impact on how we perform. Said another way, just like in sports, what’s going on between our ears affects what our body does. As many of us can attest, it’s pretty hard to drive the golf ball down the center of the fairway when your mind is screaming “duck hook” or “banana slice” during your backswing!
To succeed at securing meetings using the phone, it really helps, if, deep down, you believe that it works. And if you were to watch and listen to most sellers doing half-hearted telephone prospecting, you could tell immediately that they, forgive the pun, are just phoning it in. Oh, they’re picking up the phone and dialing, but they’re just going through the motions. Their hearts aren’t in it, and frankly, neither are their minds. If asked confidentially, these sellers would admit that they don’t believe phoning prospects will create significant sales opportunities. This negative and flawed mindset becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who think they’ll fail succeed at failing.
Let me offer a different perspective: You (and/or your company) are experts, problem-solvers, solution-providers and value-creators. Stop, and read that last sentence again. Now ask yourself a few critical questions: Do you believe that? Do you truly believe that you (or others at your company and/or your product/service) provide a great value? That you address a prospective client’s issue or need? That their business or life will be improved by working with you/your company? That you really do solve a problem, reduce a liability, lower a cost, improve profit, speed production, remove hassles, increase _________, or create a better outcome?
In the name of all that’s good and right in business, I sure hope you can answer those questions in the affirmative. Because when you can, two very important benefits accrue to you as the seller:
- You actually want to prospect for new business. That’s right. When you truly believe that you’re the best option for the prospect and that you’d be remiss and irresponsible not to make every effort to secure a discovery meeting, your attitude about “interrupting” prospects changes. When you know they’re in danger (like a kid about to run into the street), or they’re suffering with a suboptimal solution, or they’re stuck, confused or unknowingly lost, it actually makes you want to call them – for their own good! You are not calling to bother them; you are calling because you very likely have the solution that will produce a better outcome. What could be a better and more pure motivation for wanting to meet with them?
- Top-producers see themselves as experts, value-creators, consultants and professional problem-solvers. That’s right. The very best salespeople I’ve observed and coached, initiate contact with a prospect believing that they can help and deliver great value. They’re convinced the prospect needs them and would be foolish not to want to visit with them. That’s a big contrast with the majority who struggle to develop new business – those who go into prospecting uncomfortable that they’re bothering the prospect or believing that the prospect would not be interested in a meaningful conversation.
I know that many of you reading this post were hoping for some tricks and techniques – a few key phrases and some magic words that will immediately produce meetings. I promise, those tips will come in the next few installments of this series. But please don’t blow off this topic. What you believe about yourself, your solution, the prospect’s condition – and just as important, the effectiveness of picking up the phone – are all critical, and possibly have more impact on your results than the words you choose or how well you push past initial resistance. Let me say that again: Your attitude and mindset about your job, your prospective customer, and the act of picking up the phone have as much, or more, to do with your success prospecting than anything else.
Every week I work with professional sellers in a wide variety of industries who have become highly proficient prospectors. Sure, they love a lead when they get one and they’ll gladly ask for and pursue referrals. But these top-producers take responsibility for keeping their pipeline full of new opportunities and the phone is the prospecting weapon of choice to ensure that happens.
Friends, telephone prospecting works exceedingly well when done well. So let’s get our minds and out attitudes right about picking up the phone.