• Emily Malone

Turning leads into customers: part two – Connecting with your prospects

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, a phrase you will have heard throughout life, the mantra behind it doesn’t always prove to be true, but in the case of making a first impression with a prospect – it does. It really is worth planning for your first contact. This post will walk through practical and efficient ways to get off to a great start with your prospects. 

Research is key, roughly planning a connect call will go a long way. There’s no need for a scrpit, because trust me it will sound like a script and you will likely be dismissed. The era of the ‘elevator’ pitch is all but dead. Prospects want their needs and pains to be understood, not pitched to immediately. 

Try to get an idea of what position the company is currently in, look for recent news articles, follow the company and some staff members on Linkedin, have some key points about the company which you can rely on as a conversation piece. 

Half of the challenge is getting off on the right foot with your prospect’s ”gatekeeper”, is this is new language to you, the gatekeeper is usually the person who answers the phone to your call, and stands in the way of yourself and the ‘decision-maker’. 

Here are some tips for making a good first impression and getting through to the decision-maker:

  1. Smile when you talk, it will come across in your voice and differentiate you from a lot of the other calls they receive that day. 

  2. At first don’t explain why you’re calling or who you are, it can come across very ‘sales call-y’, just politely ask for the decision-maker, you’ll be surprised how far this gets you.

  3. If you’re asked what the call is regarding, be honest – use adjectives like help and advise, rather than explaining what service you are selling. A connect call should be all about helping and establishing the start of a relationship, don’t try and sell anything on your first call with a prospect. 

  4. If you’re told they’re busy – ask when they may not be so busy.

  5. If you’re told they’re on annual leave – ask when they’re back, then add a day.

  6. If you’re told they won’t take your call – ask for their email address.

  7. If you can’t get past the gatekeeper, make sure you leave the call in a better position than when you dialled.

  8. Top Tip: Ask for, and make note of the gatekeeper’s name, ask them how they are on the next call.

So, you’re through to the decision maker, and by the end of this call you’re either going to feel thrilled, gutted or somewhere in the middle. Some tips at this stage:

  1. Breathe. It can be very easy to do all the talking during a connect call, you’re keen to prove your worth and desperate to engage your prospect. But take away the phone for a moment and realise you’re talking to a human, try to talk at the same pace you would with a colleague. 

  2. Pause. Let you prospect acknowledge what you are saying, pause after a positioning statement or a question, and give your prospect chance to respond. 

  3. Ask open ended questions, the chances are your prospect has things to do other than take your call, so don’t let them get away with giving quick 1 word answers, it will stifle the energy of your call

  4. Close. See each connect call as a mini deal that you need to close, and all you need to close on is some kind of follow-up. A follow-up will look different to every company. But the aim of the connect call is to open up an opportunity, even if that opportunity is just a second call.

  5. Make notes and log your call. Information is king.

The follow up to each connect call will depend on exactly how the call went, but there should always be an output from a call, even if the output is to unqualify the prospect from your funnel. 

  1. Always e-mail your prospect after a call, unless they have specifically asked you not to. 

  2. Register all information you gained on the call to your CRM system.

  3. Change the stage of the connect process in your CRM system.

  4. Set a date to follow-up for a second call or a ‘catch-up’ and set a reminder/task.

  5. Source some useful resources that your prospect will find useful and include them in an email to them (articles, ebooks, videos, events etc.) – ABH (always be helping)

  6. If you closed a second call or meeting with your prospect make sure to book that in to your calendar. If you didn’t, why not propose the idea in your email with some suggested times?

To summarise, things to remember:

  1. On a connect call you’re offering to help, not offering to sell.

  2. You’re talking with a human.

  3. Do your Research.

  4. Smile.

  5. Breathe.

  6. Pause.

  7. Ask open questions.

  8. Close a mini-deal on the call (follow up call)

  9. Provide follow up help via resources and content.

Thanks for reading, if you’re new to outbound calling with an inbound approach I do hope this post was of value. And if you’re a veteran, hopefully, it reminded you of a few key things, and you didn’t suck too many eggs!

Next week we’ll be writing all about the ‘explore call’, the next stage of our sales process, and how you can get yourself into a position where you can make a proposal to your prospects. We’ll also be talking about the technologies used to ensure full fluidity to the process. 

Please subscribe to receive the rest of this series as it is published, and let me know your thoughts through the comments box below. 

If you want to have a chat about how oe:gen can help to align your marketing and sales, book in for a chat with me below.