You probably weren’t far into your sales career when you realized that cold calling is really not all it’s cracked up to be. Not only is it frustrating and time-consuming, it’s often pretty fruitless.
We live in the information age, so going through the phone book and randomly calling number is a thing of the past. When you call a prospect, they expect you to be prepared; you need to know who to ask for by name and be prepared to give specifics on why your product may be a good match for their practice. Anything less than that will lead to leaving messages that will never be returned.
Here are some ideas on a little extra leg work that may help you get your foot in the door.
Skip the Phone Call (At First)
It seems counter-intuitive, but advisors are inundated with phone calls every day – from wholesalers and schedulers, clients and prospects, product partners and co-workers.
If you’re trying to get the attention of a prospect, calling first may not be your best bet. Assistants are busy fielding dozens of calls every hour and often only have time to write down your name and phone number. Voice mail is a great invention, but who among us hasn’t hit “delete” right after getting the pertinent contact information, ignoring the rest of the message? No one likes a long voice message. (Incidentally, here are some tips on leaving good voice messages.)
Instead of taking your chances with messages or voice mail, compile some good information about your product and drop it off at your would-be client’s office. Don’t overwhelm him…a simple one-page piece of information about your product and its benefits is all you need. Attach your card, of course, and a handwritten note. In a world of email, a handwritten note is special and stands out.
Do Your Homework
Before you throw a generic information sheet at your prospect, do a little research first. Use Market Metrics to understand the nature of their business and poke around for information on their understanding of your product. Personalize your correspondence with them and let them know that you’ve put time and energy into getting to know them even before you stepped foot in their door.
Tailor Your Emails
Email templates can save so much time and be a real life-saver for those days when you have so many follow ups.
But don’t be afraid to customize even your templates. Before you send an email template, type a sentence or two that can help connect you to your prospective client. Ask if he received the information you dropped off or note some of the research you’ve done. “I’ve noticed that your annuity clients often have death benefit riders. I’d love to show you how ours can work for your clients as well.”
Going through all of these steps is a lot of work and much more time-consuming than standard cold calling. But the likelihood of landing a sale with this kind of follow-up work is staggeringly higher than it would be if you’d just picked up a phone and asked to speak with “whoever handles variable annuities” in an office.
So once you’re actually sitting down with the client, listen. You want to tell them all about your product and how it will be the perfect fit for so many of their clients but launching right into that speech will only make you look salesy. And nobody likes a salesy salesperson.
Get your prospect talking by asking the right kinds of questions and listen carefully to what they have to say. Can you relate their stories back to a time when your product helped out in a similar situation? Be a provider of solutions, not a salesperson.
The ESA Advantage
Executive Scheduling Associates does its homework. While we may not be able to talk to your prospects about your products, we note the facts on your clients early on and always use them to your advantage. We record of all types of scheduling preferences – this advisor only does lunches on Wednesdays or that branch doesn’t do coffee carts anymore. We are always prepared to give at least two options for meeting dates and like to have your rotation in place a quarter in advance so that we can always try to schedule a meeting on your next trip to down if an advisor isn’t available to make the first one.
What are your favorite prospecting tips? Tell us in the comments below.