We all know telemarketing is a powerful way to win new business and generate growth. But talking to people you don’t know, and who weren’t expecting your call, is a pretty tough shout even when you’ve been in sales for years. Getting them talking about their needs is a good way to ease into a productive call and potentially a rewarding relationship. We call this prospect research, and it’s the stage of a call when we form an understanding of the potential buyer’s world. It takes confidence to build dialog that gets buyers talking, and sensitivity to listen carefully enough to build a picture you can start working with.
Additionally, if you telephone someone out of the blue you don’t know if they’re in the middle of something important when your prospect research lands, and so we assume we’re disturbing them, or that our call is not welcome. Whilst most of us don’t sit at a desk waiting for our phone to ring, it’s probably not the case that every call we get is unwelcome either. In fact, for busy decision makers, the telephone can sometimes be the eyes and ears to the outside world. If there’s a new innovation or a better way of doing things, they’ll want to know about it. So the right calls are…. well, right.
So how do you know if your business is relevant to the people you’re calling? To make a success of things, you need to know about the buyer’s business in order to identify needs that you and your organisation can meet. Effective prospect research starts with curiosity, being interested enough to get people talking to us. However, communication is always more difficult by phone than face to face so getting them talking can be tricky. As soon as the buyer starts talking, and contributing to the discussion, we feel more comfortable, and before we know it, we’re away, building the foundations for a relationship to happen. So we learn to feed our curiosity and get people talking by using a particular type of question. These are open questions and begin with words like: when, why, how, and where. Open questions can’t be answered with a simple yes or no, instead, well designed open questions will generate long detail-rich answers that give us something to start building upon.
When people talk, they do more than just tell us things. We all like people who get us talking, and decision makers enjoy discussing their business, after all, it takes passion to succeed. So by getting people talking, not only do we generate valuable prospect research data, we also create an environment of mutual sharing and trust. Drawing people into conversation shows them we are interested in them and their business, not just in selling them a one size fits all. Listening to buyers tell us what we have to do to meet their needs, and allows us to showcase our ability to present something interesting, that fits those needs appropriately. Taking the time and trouble to build trust in a relationship is an important enabler in B2B markets. It is a powerful way to win higher spending clients who are satisfied advocates year after year. In fact selling professionals who take care to build and nurture trusting relationships often make clients for life, taking them from role to role. Of course, that’s good for career success, but actually, it’s so much more valuable, in helping us build careers with meaning and warm friendships, that started with a single call.
Humans generally use all five senses to communicate, so when we can’t read someone’s body language, or see their facial expression, it’s natural to feel a little compromised. One of the best ways to overcome the challenges of telephone communication is visualisation. When you pick up the phone to call a prospect, try to picture them in your mind’s eye. During the conversation imagine their facial responses. This technique will help you better empathise with your prospect. Getting a better understanding of who someone is and what they want, need, and prefer, will help you build greater rapport with them and present your message in a way that appeals to them. This makes it possible to artificially overcome some of the barriers of telephone communication. You will sound warmer and more confident, which will help breakdown any resistance that the person receiving your call may have. Your prospect research will also benefit hugely from visualising success in your encounters over the phone. Instead of assuming your call is one of many, assume it isn’t. Rather than seeing someone who isn’t interested in your offering, visualise someone who is. This is far easier to achieve when you genuinely feel pride and confidence in what your business does for its clients.