Posted tagged ‘Vista’

Cold Calling Step 5: Identifying the Right Person for Your Sales Presentation

July 23, 2010

All too often, we limit the equation of success to having a product with specific benefits and a compelling presentation. But if your presentation is conveyed to the wrong audience, it will be met with boredom and disinterest.

Some “sales gurus” will advocate that you should present to the highest level you can reach within an organization. But what do you do if, frankly, your product or service is too granular in scope to engender interest from the highest levels of the organization?

That is why you need to identify the person who has a vested interest in the product or service that you are advocating.

Finding such a person is not that difficult. For this particular campaign, I acquired a directory of health care organizations within my specific target market. These directories listed the senior leadership. There were two potential roles that would likely be interested in this product. Where the product would have value was dependent on the organizational design and structure.

I decided to call both. I recognized that the person that I called might not be the appropriate person so I decided to employ two tactics. The first was to explain in detail in voice mail the compelling benefits and why this would be interest. Where I could not get into voice mail – where a gatekeeper blocked me or where I could only leave a message – I employed a second tactic.

In these circumstances, I leveraged the lessons from Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. (Please note: I have reviewed this book on this site. Search Cialdini if you wish to understand his work in a few short posts)

Knowing that people naturally liked helping others, I courteously and passionately asked if I could be directed to the right person and explained what my product provided. An overwhelming number provided me with the name and the number of the person I should be contacting. Additionally, I now had a referral to bring to the discussion as indeed I was being advised to call a particular person. My cold call was transformed into a warm lead.

A brief digression…

Personally, I am very comfortable employing this approach. When I represent an exciting new product that can make a difference, I view what I am providing as a unique opportunity for my prospect. If my product allows them to deliver better value to their clients…well, what could be better than that?

Additionally, with cold calling, there is a unique challenge. Your prospect likely doesn’t know that your product exists so he or she can’t seek you out. In fact, by providing a compelling benefit and solution, you, the salesperson, are opening new horizons and possibilities for your prospect. By making their company more competitive, efficient or valuable, you are contributing to the well being of their clients, employees, families and the overall marketplace and economy.

This is why sales, if done appropriately, is a very noble profession.

Back to the topic at hand…

I have found that it takes, on average, at least seven calls to the same prospect over a three-week time frame to get a call back. This is because the prospect needs to know that you are so enthusiastic about the offering that you are presenting and you will not go away without a response.

As to what that intriguing voice mail sounds like…that is the subject of our next post.

Cold Calling Step 4: Getting Your Voice

July 18, 2010

Having prepared your script does not mean that your presentation is in any way refined nor that you are ready to begin the cold calling campaign.

There is a reasonable (some would say, likely) chance that the script that you have prepared is somewhat off target. To get closer to the mark, you will need to expose the script to the target market and get  valuable feedback so you may refine your presentation.

This means making some initial calls to test the script and discover your “voice.”

When a script has been completed, there may be as many as five or six bullets in the vista section. More than likely, the prospect will not listen as you rattle off a checklist of benefits. But testing what you feel to be the best two or three key selling points will allow you to discover if what you are saying resonates with the prospect.

If you are not garnering interest, you’ll hear comments that open up other possibilities. Sometimes, the prospect will share what is truly valuable to them. The key though is to approach these conversations with an eye towards discovery. This is an evolutionary process and the intention at this juncture is to learn.

Since your “voice” is not yet polished, it is always a good idea to start testing your script with the fringes of the target market.

I like to call prospects that have just enough size and interest to make the target list but aren’t within the center of the targeted group. This allows me to educate myself with a prospect that is not a likely purchaser but still has insight from which knowledge may be gained. And if the call is not successful, the probability that I have lost an important prospect is low since the prospect was not a primary candidate.

You will also learn about another key area and that is the common objections section. At this stage, it is appropriate to be rejected. Listen carefully to these objections, as it will allow you to prepare responses for them so that when you hear them again, you are prepared with a way to address them.

And of course, with practice, you will gain familiarity with your script. This will allow you to present naturally and conversationally and thus convey with confidence the value of your product or service.

Cold Calling Step 3: Creating the Presentation Script

July 14, 2010

When it comes to cold calling, there is tremendous value in organizing one’s thoughts in advance.

Doing so in writing has significant advantages including (1) being better prepared as to what you wish to convey, (2) thinking you are better prepared which translates into being able to speak with greater confidence, (3) establishing a baseline so that you can emphasize what resonates and eliminate what doesn’t and (4) being able to actively listen because you are no longer concerned about inadvertently not mentioning something important.

My mentor, Carl Epstein, taught me an exceptional scripting tool, which I would like to share with you in today’s post. There are several elements in the structure of this type of script. These scripts should be written in bulleted form so that it does not sound like you are reading it and because bulleted writing typically eliminates excess or needless words.

Here are the elements:

(1)    Introduction: This is simply an opening statement of courtesy and may be as simple as “We haven’t spoken in a while. I wanted to catch up with you and share with you what we are doing and see if we can help you advance your business.”

(2)    Vista: This section is where we bring in the business benefits. In essence, you are “painting the future” here. Effectively introducing the value that your product or service provides early on is critical in encouraging your prospect to invest more time in hearing the rest of your presentation. They choose to listen because your product or service may be addressing a real need for them.

(3)    Product / Service Information: This is where you speak in detail about the key elements of your service or product. The purpose of this section is to connect the business benefits to your offering. The prospect should be able to realize the direct relationship between your product and the benefits that he or she is hoping to receive.

(4)    Action of Buyer / Reason for Action: However, just in case the prospect can’t, it is critical to reintroduce the benefits and tie them tightly to your offering. Here you review what you offer and connect it to the business value.

(5)    Ask for the Order: It is here that you present the request for the “next step.” It could be the order or a meeting or a demonstration but, regardless, it is imperative that you be clear about what you are requesting and that you make a definitive request.

(6) Common Objections: The last element is to prepare a list of common objections and responses. Before you begin and even more likely, after you have made a few calls, you probably will be able to anticipate why someone may reject your offering (cost and time required to implement are some typical examples). You should anticipate these questions and prepare responses so that you are immediately ready to address these objections. Remember though – after addressing the objections, you must ask for the order again.

If you have prepared this script properly, you should be able to effectively deliver this presentation in two to three minutes.

A couple of additional thoughts:

  • The script that is written at the outset of an engagement always evolves over time. Each call allows you to tighten the language and become more succinct. Edit the script regularly until it is efficient and can be said more simply. (I call this “getting your voice.”)
  • After a while, you should discover that referencing the script is no longer necessary. The act of creating the script and repeating it frequently allows for a more natural presentation.
  • Of all the sections, the Vista section is usually the most important because if the business benefits are not clearly presented, the prospect will choose to end the conversation.

Fortunately, if you have followed Steps 1 and 2, you have a set of likely business benefit candidates upon which you can draw.


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