Have you ever have gone to an event or association meeting and picked up business cards from two or three potential clients… only to put off calling them because you weren’t sure what to say?
It’s only natural for us as coaches and consultants to protect ourselves from failure by procrastinating. You don’t want to look like a fool, right? So you tell yourself that you’ll make the calls later this week, but that “later” often becomes never… because the leads become old and cold. There’s no such thing as the right time to start. Delaying will not lessen any of the fears that are holding you back.
Even though it’s scary as heck, you’ll likely discover that once you jump in, getting started and making the calls isn’t as bad as it seems.
(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.)
After flubbing my share of calls when I first started my business years ago, (or not making them at all) I remembered the successes I’d had at a college summer job setting appointments with financial seminar attendees.
It was because I was working from a prepared outline… not a canned phone script… but a written template for the call. This “talking points” list allowed me to breeze through the calls and sound natural… because it was. You can do this too. Just follow these four simple steps:
Here’s an example of the template like the one I developed years ago and still use to this day… There are four critical parts… the introduction, stating the purpose of the call, a credibility/hook statement and finally a call to action (CTA). Each part is important and must be in this order.
The introduction tells the prospect why you are calling and how you came to have their name. Maybe they contacted you through your website, were referred to you by someone else or you exchanged business cards with them at an event. It might sound like this:
Ms. _______________ , thanks for picking up 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. If you don’t know how to pronounce the prospect’s name yet, FIND OUT BEFORE YOU CALL. Refrain from asking how their weekend was, mentioning how cold it is or how they are doing today. If they are having a bad day or week, you just reminded them of that… a real downer for sure. … And you know what? They aren’t going to tell you anyway unless you are their therapist!
At this point, now 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 the ________________ company.
The next element explains the purpose of the sales call in just a few well-chosen keywords and phrases. The template for this section is as follows:
I am calling because you mentioned that you may be looking for a way to _______________. A number of clients have successfully engaged us 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. 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 tune into what the prospect is saying rather than have to think about what you are going to say next.
Part three is the hook/credibility statement:
We have been able to get significant 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 heat of the moment.)
Next is the final element, the call to action (CTA). What is it that you want them to do? Book an appointment? Register for a seminar? Schedule a face-to-face meeting?
Is __________________ something that makes sense for you to pursue at this time? or…
Would you be interested in seeing if we could accomplish __________ results in your situation? or…
What would be the ____________ way to continue this conversation? or…
Can we book a face to face meeting _____________________ by the end of next week? or…
Would you attend a _______________ on this subject?
(Again, stop talking and let them speak first. At this point resist the temptation to force an immediate purchase decision on the phone… they won’t do it. When is the last time you bought something on the phone? Your objective should be to move them to the next stage in the process.)
Now, what if after all that work on your sales call template, you get their assistant or voicemail? No problems… have shortened versions (without the CTA) of your template ready. Treat any gatekeeper of receptionist as if they were a decision-maker too. They may very well be!
How many times should you call before you give up? The old rule of thumb used to be between 5 and 7 times. Today, with all of the distractions that people have, it’s more like 13. There is no need to leave a template message every time… but if you do, a simple “this is _____________________ sorry I missed you again!” will suffice.
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 learned is important to them.
One final, important note: Never read your template, under any circumstances. Instead, practice it as written, and then practice it from memory so that your words emerge naturally as if you just thought of them on the spot. This will help give you authority in your tone of voice and pacing when you make your sales calls.