Now that you´ve reached the decision maker there are a few things to keep in mind"?¦
Before you can even think about setting an appointment, you need to pre-qualify the prospect. This isn´t about you selling your product or service so much as it´s about deciding if the two of you are a "fit". Because we tend to sell from fear and shame we don´t think about making sure that the prospect is someone we want as a client. We are so grateful to get a live person on the phone; we become over-anxious and don´t properly pre-qualify the lead for "approval". The only way to do this is by asking probing questions. But before you can do that, consider this. Before you meet, determine the information you want to gather to qualify them for a meeting. Think of it this way. Your time like theirs is valuable; find out if they are someone you want to do business with before you spend the gas money. Questions to keep in mind include:
I understand that you are the person in-charge of accepting bids for ______services. Is that correct?
I understand you approve the budget for_____. Is that correct?
The point is to make sure you´re speaking with the right person. Or the person with buying power. Many appointments are cancelled because of the inevitable post appointment call "I spoke with my boss and he´s not interested".
Are you taking quotes on _______(services)?
How soon will you be taking quotes? If it´s within 1-3 months, set the appointment because it takes that long for a cold call to turn into a sale. Any more than 3 months and you should send info and call back when appropriate.
Do you handle this function in-house or do you use an outside vendor?
Since you use an outside vendor, what has your experience been? Were there any problems with the service?
Were those problems solved?
Can you tell me a bit more about the type of services you currently utilize?
What would make you switch services?
Do you have a budget set up for these services?
About how much did you want to spend?
Be sure to prioritize these questions in the order of importance. If you don´t, you may back yourself into a corner. You will notice that the questions are mostly open-ended and designed to facilitate dialogue between you and the prospect. You will also notice that the questions are in a specific order. Probing questions are about asking specific questions in a specific order. Anyone can ask questions but a true professional will build a case leading directly to a good appointment. Once you´ve gathered all the info you need then and only then should the appointment be set. Here´s what a typical dialogue looks like.
This is____________calling for ____________. We help companys with______________. Are you the person handling__________________? Our services include_____________
Are you happy with your current service?
Are you taking quotes?
Okay, thank you for your time.
Do you see the difference between the two presentations? In the second example, you´ve pretty much backed yourself into a no-win situation without even knowing why the prospect isn´t interested. It could be financial, bad service or any number of reasons.
Don´t worry if you don´t get the technique right away. It takes time a developed instinct to master the probe.
Coming up: The close
Tony Wilkins is the author of "Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid-sized Firms available in most bookstores and online at www.amazon.com and www.xlibris.com you may also find out about his workshops and services at
http://stores.ebay.com/telemarketing-success via e: mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 415-267-4872 .If you´d like to be notified of a new posting for this column ,please contact Tony Wilkins at email@example.com