Powerful Telephone Prospecting

By joseph stumpf

Cold calling is one of many obstacles which can drive telemarketers away from the pursuit of successful sales calls. Salespeople who are otherwise well-adjusted communicators can become introverted, sweaty palmed and tongue tied when it is time to prospect on the telephone for new business. Without a plan, successful techniques and a system that inspires confidence, they will never produce strong results in telemarketing sales.

In the past seven years, I have trained thousands of telephone sales professionals on winning methods for finding customers and I have extracted six major activities which separate star performers from failures.

1. PUNCH THE DIAL. Telephone prospecting is a numbers game. However with star performers, it becomes a challenge to see just how many dial ups they can make in an hour, a half day or a full day. Real superstars like Pate Ballinger, who earns six figures selling computer training products, make 100 or more dial ups per day.

Pete says, “Managing my activity of dial ups is the only way to assure consistent results. I take care of the dial ups and the dial ups take care of the sales.”

2. DEVELOP A LIST OF GOOD PROSPECTS. The rule is simple: The easier a list is to get, the more salespeople will have it. The harder a list is to get, the less salespeople will have it – and the more star prospects are on it.

3. THE FIRST 10 SECONDS OF THE CALL. The opening seconds of any call often determine the eventual outcome. Top salespeople understand that the prospect either opens or closes his mind based on the initial introduction. When we conducted a nationwide survey of salespeople, we found that 73 percent used an opening which was similar to this:

“Hello, Ms. Jones. This is Jack Smith with Acme Parts. How are you today?”

This sounds all right but the result is a customer who knows:

a. That you don’t know her.

b. That she doesn’t know you.

c. That you are a salesperson.

By using this opening, the chances of your reaching an open state of mind are slim. The key here is to sound like you know the people you call and that you have something that will really benefit their business. Try saying, “Good morning, Ms. Jones. This is Jack Smith with Acme Parts. You may remember me. But if you don’t, I remember that you’re in the parts salvage business and you’re looking for cost effective ways to increase your profits on salvaged parts and repairs.”

4. ASK SMART QUESTIONS. John Mills, a top commercial real estate broker in Los Angeles, says that he only seeks to know three things in each cold call:

a. Are the prospects interested in finding out more?

b. How soon would they like to take an action?

c. When they bought in the past, on what did they base their decision to buy?

The answers to these questions reveal the buying sequence of each customer. Once you know a prospect’s buying sequence, all you need to do is follow it. The rule here is hard and fast. People buy the way they’ve bought in the past.

5. RAPPORT BUILDING. How do star performers do this? They use the modern science of NLP: Neuro Linguistic Programming. NLP dictates that, when on the phone or in person, the salesman becomes a mirror of the person he is talking to. A salesperson matches the rhythm, tone and volume of his prospect. This creates a conscious similarity or comfort zone which is called rapport.

6. THE SCRIPT BOOK. The script book is to star performers what the combination to the vault is to bankers. The proper scripts unlock the door to the ultimate treasures which are available to a salesperson. As we studied the high achievers in telephone sales, we consistently noted that the use of written scripts played an integral part in their overall success.

The best scripts are flexible and always include a close. To find the best close, use the ABC formula. A: Suggest an action. B: Give the benefit of taking the action. C: Ask for the commitment. An example: “Ms. Jones, based on what I see/hear/feel, I think the action you should take is to invest in our 307 plan. The benefit to you is reduced operating costs. To take advantage of reduced costs, we need your commitment to the plan. Would a 20 percent or 30 percent deposit be best for you now?”

That’s all there is to it. Have a game plan. Find the right list to call on. Develop your assumptive opening. Ask smart questions. Understand and use the modern science of NLP and use scripts. The more proficient you become in each one of these areas, the more chance you will have of coming up with successful telephone sales.

Joseph Stumpf is the president of Star Performance Seminars in Los Angeles, California. He is the author of two audio programs on the subject of proper telephone techniques, It’s For You – Your Most Important Call and Powerful Telephone Prospecting and Selling Skills. He is currently coauthoring a book with Dr. Donald Moine entitled, NLP – The Easy Way To Sell On The Telephone. Joe can be reached by writing Star Performance Seminars, 7906 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, or by calling (213) 650-2056.