No-one likes the idea of a “cold call”
The whole mindset around the old way of making this sort of contact is unproductive.
And for many business-to-business sales situations – especially for expertise-based companies that rely on building a relationship with their clients – following the old-fashioned mindset that “it is a numbers game”, or you need to have the gift of gab to convince prospects, will guarantee your failure.
Even with the increased use of the internet by prospects to source information, and the growth of inbound marketing options, direct outbound contact to potential clients is still a necessity in many industries. But you need a better, newer, more professional way of doing it.
The real goal of making initial contact for expertise-based businesses
The goal of sales prospecting is to make initial contact and generate a spark of interest from the prospect. It’s about identifying potential opportunities – for both the prospect and for the seller.
This initial contact will be just the first of many (anticipated) future contacts.
It is not the old-fashioned one-off cold call where the pressure is to clinch the sale on the spot.
That is the first change – adopting a fresh mindset about the purpose of the contact. It’s like you’re meeting a potential friend. You need to get to know them before you can see where the relationship might go.
The second change is to have a structured approach to fast-track that relationship. Don’t rely on “winging it” or having the mystical gift of gab. Modern clients simply don’t have time for general chit chat with sellers they don’t know.
Rather than frustrating your prospects by trying to build rapport using small talk you need to have a professional way of helping them see you are focused on something of value for them. You need to get to the point.
You must have a structure for the conversation
It’s no secret we are often a bit uncomfortable when meeting new people – socially or in sales situations. It’s usual to worry about:
- What should I say?
- How do I know what the other person likes?
- What should I ask them about?
- How do I avoid awkward silences?
You need to foster a conversation. But the fact is, conversations with new contacts don’t always go smoothly. Sometimes the flow of conversation falters. Sometimes you get answers you weren’t expecting. Because of that you need a road map, or a structure, you can follow to keep your thoughts on the outcome of the call.
Using the Triple C strategy for making initial contact
When you are planning to make initial contact you can use the three-step Triple C strategy to create an effective conversation plan.
1. Create (a plan)
To get started realise there are only three reasons to make initial contact:
- Trigger Event
- Referral or Connection
- Speculative Contact
You need to spend time to prepare yourself to make the initial contact. It’s not enough just to have a phone number and a name.
Think through the conversation you will be having.
- Do you know how to introduce yourself?
- Are you prepared with a convincing RFM (Reason For Meeting)?
- What is your desired goal from this contact?
2. Call (and converse)
- Now that you have made contact how do you navigate through the options to progress the conversation?
- Have you identified the specific questions you need to ask to generate that spark of interest?
- Do you have suitable information to share that will demonstrate your expertise or value for the prospect?
- How will you respond to any tricky or vague answers you receive?
3. Confirm (actions or next step)
- How will you ensure you adequately qualify the prospect?
- What will happen next, and when should that be done?
- Do you know what to do if there is no immediate action required?
- Have you prepared the follow up process before you make initial contact?
Making initial contact is not just a “numbers game”. You need an approach that works with modern buyers. Improving your strategy, preparation, and skills will have a positive impact on your results, so don’t leave the initial conversation to chance.
No matter whether the conversation is for 3 minutes or 30 minutes you need an effective structure that leads towards a productive outcome.
The Triple C strategy for making initial contact is an action-based methodology that helps you define your own approach to conduct successful prospecting calls.
Image credit: Matt Biddulph