Q: Your recent article about sales Cold Calling was quite interesting. Can you elaborate on how one should prepare before calling on the customer?
A: An excellent question and regardless of whether you are making a "cold call" or pre-arranged appointment, the more prepared you are, the better your chances of success.
Reflecting on my many years experiences as an insurance agent, I called on a variety of businesses. There were contractors, professional people, retailers and manufacturers to name a few. To design an insurance program to protect their unique exposures, I had to have a basic knowledge of the product or service they provided.
While I gleaned the majority of this information from follow up inspections, it was critical that I be able to establish credibility in the initial interview.
To begin, I would research their web site and their competitor's sites, as well as trade publication and internet articles written on the subject of the various exposures peculiar to their business or profession.
Next, determine who is the decision maker and when is the best time to catch him or her in the office. Making a good impression on the receptionist is helpful in gleaning this information. If you are successful in obtaining an appointment, be sure to bring her a token of appreciation.
Focus on four pre-call questions:
What is the goal of the sales call?
What will be your opening remarks?
What information do you want to gain from the meeting?
What is your follow-up plan?
Once you have your foot in the door, try hard to determine what is important to the customer. Ask pointed questions that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer. The goal is to get the prospect to open up and share information that will enable you to have a feel for what will motivate them to buy from you.
Remember, if you are doing all the talking, you probably have already lost the sale.
SCORE Naples offers many workshops dealing with issues facing small business. To learn more or register call 239-430-0081 or go to http://naples.score.org/localworkshops
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples, a resource partner with the Small Business Administration. Their counselors offer advice concerning management and other issues facing your small business. Counseling is free to all U.S. citizens and legal aliens. To register call 239-430-0081 or visit http://tinyurl.com/43aqelw.
If you would like an answer to your question, fill out the form at http://naples.score.org/mentors. A counselor will contact you within 48 hours. Include your name, email address and a contact phone number.