In my previous post I discussed calls that don’t add value, and even can be looked at as nuisance or time-wasting calls.
The ones that start out with, “Just wanted to introduce myself,” Just checking in,” “Just touching base,” and more.
Today we’ll go through how to bring value to calls so that your listeners look forward to hearing from you.
First, to set things up, we’ll focus on calls in a couple of categories:
The “Networking Mixer” calls… phoning accounts you haven’t spoken with previously because they have just been assigned to you, and, regular calls to existing customers–who might be at various levels of ordering and volume frequency.
I’ve always said that these are some of the toughest calls to place. Because, it requires creative thinking and lots of sales pros don’t want to think that hard.
Except the best sales pros. I bet you’re in that group.
Lazy sales reps, or those or don’t know any better, are content calling to “just touch base,” or to “see if there’s anything on your desk I can bid on.”
These approaches are reactive, provide nothing of value, can be viewed as nuisance calls, and leave you open to being treated as a simple vendor who can be manipulated into a price war.
Calls to regular customers– those new to you, and to prospects you’re clinging onto– should always contain something of value…something that lets the customer feel you are contributing something useful by calling.
Keep in mind that your customers are someone else’s prospects.
If they feel they are being taken for granted by a sales rep, or a transactional telemarketer-type who simply calls and says,
“Do you have an order for me?”,
…might eventually fall for the wooing of a competitor who is creative enough to dangle something attractive in front of them.
Also keep in mind your prospects are likely buying from someone else, and won’t budge unless they see some value in what you have.
So, what to do?
Here are just a few ideas to spice up these calls to position you as a value-added resource, and not just a salesperson.
Instead of the Networking Mixer Opening
Of course you are introducing yourself, but think about WHY they would be interested in knowing you: sorry to break it to you, it’s not because of the charming, witty individual that you are.
Well, maybe that will play a part later, but initially it will be because they think you can add some value to their world. So you must get to that quickly.
“Hi Pat, I’m Dale Johnson with Synergy Solutions. First, we want to thank you for your business with us the past couple of years, and I wanted to let you know that I am your point of contact whenever you need product research done and quotes so you can get answers quickly. Plus, I’ll be letting you know when there are promotions that you might have interest in…”
Begin with “YOU”
A good way to begin calls to customers is by saying something like,
“I was thinking of you,”
“I heard some interesting information, and you immediately came to mind,”
“When this news came out, I thought about you…”
News or Trigger Events in Their World
A quick Google and LinkedIn search could bring up valuable intelligence about them or their company.
Perhaps they just won a major contract, they were featured in the news, your contact wrote an article or had an interesting LinkedIn update or Twitter post.
Change is constant, and it provides opportunities for you to add value.
Perhaps you have some news they might not be aware of. Or, maybe they are aware of it, and you have something to help them take advantage of it. For example,
“Ms. Prospect, you probably are familiar with the new regulations regarding the reporting of waste disposal. We developed a way to make that less of a headache for companies in your situation, and I’d like to ask you a few questions to see how much of a problem you anticipate this being.”
New Policies at Your Company
If you change restrictive policies that would enable you to do business with people who didn’t qualify in the past, call them again.
For example, if your minimum order size has been dropped, or, you’re now carrying a line that they asked for before and you didn’t have it, or you’ve lessened credit requirements.
And with regular customers, calling with changes to their advantage is always welcome.
Calling with the Deal of the Week is the lazy default for many salespeople.
While I don’t suggest becoming known as the person who just calls with specials that your customers can cherry-pick, if you strategically call when there is s special on something you know your customer uses and might not be buying from you, that can turn into a bigger relationship.
Or, “Giving Away a Dollar Today to Get a Hundred Later” is a good strategy. I had an online service that I use call me and let me know I qualified for a better plan than the $19 or whatever I was paying monthly, and drop it to $14.
Crazy for them to do that right?
Not so much, when I consider that I’ve had lots of opportunities to leave them, but always remember that gesture… from a few years ago.
New Regime at Your Company
This can be effective for those accounts you haven’t been able to break because of legitimate, real objections they had. If, for example, new management has cleaned house and improved quality, decreased errors, etc., call again, since you’re now selling a new company.
Also, these can be spun into reasons for calling existing accounts.
If you have products or services that deliver results you weren’t able to before, that is always a good reason to call.
Just be sure you are positioning them in terms of results to the listener. Not, “Hey, we have a new product and we think it is great.”
Maybe you fell to pieces and self-destructed on a previous call. Since then you’ve acquired more skills and confidence.
Maybe you’ve come up with new ideas, or a new strategy.
Of course my examples here are fairly general. You need to make them specific for your calls. And here’s the best way I know for you personally to come up with great value- added reasons for calling:
Have a brainstorming session with your colleagues. Invite customer service, production, advertising, marketing, operations…anyone who knows your products and services. Make it a game or competition. The goal is to fill in the blank:
“The reason I’m calling is __.”
The main rule is that what goes in the blank must be perceived by the listener as something that they would view as valuable and interesting to them.
Believe me, I’ve done this many times with clients in training sessions and we come up with 20, 30 or more great ideas to use.
So get creative, get working, and you’ll find yourself converting more of those prospects collecting dust in your follow-up file, and you’ll provide more value and sell more to existing customers.
Again, below, please share any of your own ideas and best practices for adding value.