Recently I had great fun writing about how to get past a gatekeeper when cold-calling a prospect or potential business partner. But getting past the gatekeeper is only part of your battle to get your prospect’s attention.
Nobody wants to be dragged into a phone call. If you’ve strongarmed your way in, you have to be ready with a great pitch AND a plan to immediately warm up your prospect.
First, the basics:
1. Smile. It makes all the difference in the tone of your voice.
2. Be natural & conversational. If you’re hyper or stilted you’ll sound inexperienced.
3. Be confident. You need to instill trust.
4. Practice your pitch. Know exactly what you’re going to say.
Here’s how I approach these calls:
Me (nice & genuine!): “Hi Bob, this is John Austin from Austech Partners. How are you today?”
Right away Bob has to make a decision:
1. Be nice. “I’m fine, what can I do for you? I’d say 90% of people decide to be nice. At this point I’ll move right into my “pitch” — see below.
2. Get angry that I’ve disturbed him. “Do I know you?” “What is this about?” etc.
Let’s start with Angry Bob. At this point I immediately apologize and ask for permission to continue.
Me (very genuine): “I’m really sorry to barge in – can I get 20 seconds to tell you about ___?” In the blank, I insert a 10-15-word phrase that includes
At this point I haven’t actually pitched yet – I’m just whetting Bob’s appetite. And if the benefit is compelling enough, he’ll almost always agree to another 20 seconds to hear more. He may tell me to be quick about it, but I almost always get this additional time.
At this point it’s time to really engage Bob and get into meaningful conversation. I start with 2 or 3 sentences to explain the purpose of my call, and then I ask a question that requires some thought, then keep the conversation flowing. The point is to learn about his situation and talk about how we can work together, not to dump a long pitch in his lap.
When anyone asks me for a great, inspiring book about pitching, selling, building relationships, etc., I recommend The Little Red Book of Selling : 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness. It’s a best-seller and a quick, inspiring read. Author Jeffrey Gitomer also has a very good weekly newsletter — if you’re interested, here’s the page to sign up.
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