- Focus your mind and attention on the subject
- Stop all non-relevant activities beforehand to orient yourself to the client’s voice or the topic
- Review mentally what you already know about the subject
- Organize in advance relevant material in order to develop it further (newspaper articles, web sites, prior real life experience, etc.)
- Avoid distractions (an open window, noise, etc.)
- Acknowledge any emotional state e.g. obvious concern over the business finances affecting him personally
- Set aside your prejudices, your opinions
You are on the telephone to learn what the client has to say, not the other way around – Actively listen, listen and listen!
- Follow and understand the speaker as if you were walking in their shoes
- Let the prospect’s argument or output run its course
- Don’t agree or disagree, but encourage the train of thought
- Actively respond to questions and directions and lead the client to be even more forthcoming.
If as the result of this conversation I felt that there was not only an opportunity to help the client and most importantly profitably then I would finish by saying something like ” Why don’t I drop by to see you for a few minutes later this week” or “I’ll drop by to see you for a few minutes later this week. What sort of time would suit you?” Notice, I do not specifically ask for a meeting and I do not ask for an appointment. On each and every occasion where I have had such a “few minutes” together it developed into a meeting in the real sense of the word and although sometimes I have had to go back before securing business there has never been any attempt by a client to limit our discussion to just a few minutes. Indeed most lasted from 45 minutes to 90 minutes.
Let me remind you of some “Open-ended” questions (not related one to the other nor in any order of importance) you might ask, If you wish type these on a piece of paper for the first few calls and have them to hand. You will be surprised how soon you handle each new call without any notes or aides whatsoever other than the client’s web site and industry news.
Open ended questions
- What formal process do you have to determine your company needs?
- How do you see this being resolved? Have you had any difficulties with suppliers in the past? With which?
- What steps do you plan taking to tackle that problem?
- How long do you think that will take in the light of your present circumstances?
- How do you find your bankers?
- How did your last meeting with your bankers go?
- How do you feel about that? (Try NOT to use the word “think”)
- How do you feel you could avoid that becoming a problem?
- What concerns do you have at the moment?
- Can you explain that to me?
- How does that work?
- How did you get into this business/industry? (People love to talk about themselves)
- What sort of challenges are you facing?
- What is your most pressing need? Creditor pressure? Debtor balances too large?
There are of course dozens more but do remember clients BUY WANTS, they DO NOT BUY NEEDS. Let me explain this point:
For example a client may need an additional piece of equipment but he simply cannot afford it and has nowhere to locate it. In other words he needs it but does not want it, now at least, as he has insufficient funds and has nowhere to put it. If however you show him how he could afford it and how he could make room for it then he will WANT one. Then you can sell him one. Exactly the same principle applies to advisory work.
“What we call luck, what we call chance, is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Do not make these five calls an irksome or burdensome task. It should be something you do on a weekly basis and obviously when you need a number of extra clients. Make it an enjoyable 90-minute session. Sometimes it will only take 40 minutes but do stick at it. There is nothing like self-generated appointments to make you feel good. Also, don’t forget that when you make the visit to the client you are meeting someone to whom you have already spoken and where you are already aware of some of their concerns. Purchased appointments never give you this. You will find that each session gets easier, smoother and more successful -1 can assure you.
Do take my sample letter and change it to suit YOU. Each of us is different but when you find a letter that works stick with it. Mine might be thought by some to be too aggressive but do remember the key points you must have in the letter. I am going to remind you again.