How often have you come home from a conference with a stack of business cards, put them in a drawer and never called any of them? Or, how many times have you given a talk and returned with an even bigger stack of cards… only to put off calling them because you were unsure of how to do it successfully? It happens all the time to coaches and consultants like us. If this is true for you, you’re not alone. The question is… how can we get past it?
In my experience working with clients, the number one reason why independent professionals are not attracting enough business is because they are simply not making enough contact with prospective clients. I’ve found that there are two root causes for this…
1. Not knowing how to confidently talk about their services.
2. Not pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones.
If you don’t have as much business as you’d like, there’s a good chance it’s because you’re not making those connections and following through. Let’s take a look at each one in detail and turn them around in your favor…
Tactic #1: Know How to Confidently Talk About Your Services
A lack of coherent talking points is a sure way to flub an outreach call… and fearing that outcome, coaches and consultants will often delay making the call. The longer we put off making the call, the more likely the prospective client will move on or find another solution.
SOLUTION: Use a “talking points outline” (not a “script”) to help clearly and confidently articulate what outcomes you have to offer your clients. Follow this four-step template to create your own…
Step 1 is an introductory statement that informs the prospect why you are calling and how you came to have their name and number. It might sound like this:
Ms. _______________, thanks for answering the phone. I know your time is limited, so I will get right to the point. We met at the ________ association dinner last Thursday. Is this a bad time to talk?
At this point, you have not mentioned your own name yet. Keep it that way. The prospect still likes the sound of their own name better than yours at this time. Next, it is time to immediately reveal who you are. They will be more likely to remember your name and company if it’s not the first thing out of your mouth. Address the prospect by name again:
Ms. ___________________, I am (your name) with _____________________.
Step 2 involves explaining the purpose of your call with just a few well-chosen key words and phrases.
I am calling because you mentioned that you may be looking for a way to __________. A number of our/my clients have successfully engaged me to do just that.
Edit this to fit your own business, like “reduce employee turnover”. Keep it short. If the prospect interrupts at this point, that’s fine. We want to have a relational conversation rather than a one-sided attempt to get them to agree to a meeting sometime in the future. You have them on the phone now! You want them to participate… but go back to the template anytime you get sidetracked as long as you don’t interrupt the prospect to do it. Pause here to listen to what they say. One huge reason to use a sales call template is to allow you to better tune into what the prospect is saying rather than having to think about what you are going to say next.
Step 3 is your credibility statement:
We have been able to get meaningful results for a number of clients in the area of ________________. At ____________ we were able to ______________________ and _______________ within ________.
Here you might say something like “we saved 45 days construction time for the Highway 101 project with our proprietary project management system” or “my coaching clients have seen an 18% increase in life insurance policies sold last year”. Unless the prospect interrupts you, keep going through this section. Your goal is to get them to engage in a dialog with you, so welcome questions. Then stop cold and let them respond if they have not already. Don’t be afraid of some silence here. Take notes… if you are like me, you can’t remember every detail in the moment!
The last step in the conversation is using a “call to action”. What is it that you want them to do? Book an appointment? Register for a seminar? Schedule a face-to-face meeting? Here are some examples:
Is this something that makes sense for you to pursue at this time? OR…
What would be the best way to continue this conversation? OR…
Can we book a face to face meeting sometime next week?
Again, stop talking and let them speak first.
My examples shared here are just that… Write your own words and vary it so that it is comfortable for you. If you offer high value customized services, tailor the template for each prospect based on what you have come to understand is important to them
Now, what if after all that work on your sales call template, you get their assistant or voicemail? No problem… have a shortened version (without the call to action) ready. Treat any gatekeeper or receptionist as if they were a decision-maker too. They might very well be!
Tactic #2: Push Yourself Outside of Your Comfort Zone
It’s only natural for us as coaches and consultants to protect ourselves from failure by procrastinating. So, you tell yourself that you’ll make the calls later this week, but that “later” often becomes never… because the leads become older and colder. There’s no such thing as the right time to start. Delaying will not reduce any of the fears that are holding you back.
(Please understand that I am NOT talking about cold calling here. Cold calling for the sale of professional services is a waste of time. It cheapens your offering and produces low quality leads that close at a lower rate.)
Business rejection is not a personal rejection. We need to separate the two. Outreach calls are an essential part of running a successful business. The more calls you make, the easier it is to make more calls. It’s a lot like going to the gym to workout… It’s hard to get started and make it a regular part of your routine. But, the more often you go, it can become a fruitful habit… even something you look forward to as you begin to have more success! Here are some ideas to help you get started:
• Vow to never let a lead get more than 48 hours old without calling to follow up.
• Promise yourself you will make at least three to five outreach calls per week to past clients, new leads, or people who are in your network. Isolation is your enemy!
• Understand that you are in business to help people… and that they need your help.
• Enlist the help of an accountability partner if you need more support.