Do you ever feel frustrated by the high levels of resistance you encounter when calling potential clients? Let’s face it — it’s hard to get people’s attention these days. Clients are bombarded by business development calls, and when you add email and social media to the mix, the competition for your prospect’s focus is intense.
Here are 3 steps for standing out from the competition and approaching new clients so they actually want to talk to you!
1. Do your homework
The days of “smile and dial” are over. Clients expect you to know something about their business before you contact them. Technology makes it so easy, there’s really no excuse not to do some pre-call preparation.
You might already visit a client’s website prior to calling. While that’s a good start, you should also research the person you want to speak to, not just the company. Look them up on Google or LinkedIn, and ask yourself: What’s their background? What are their interests? What do we have in common? Who do we know in common?” Then in your call opening, let them know that you’ve done some research about them and use your findings as a “bridge” into the conversation. Right away you’ve differentiated yourself from 95% of the competition, demonstrated your professionalism, and captured your clients’ interest by talking about something they’re actually interested in – themselves!
2. Have a valid reason to call
Imagine the client asking: “Why are you calling, and why should I care?” Those are the questions your call opening must answer.
For example, many recruiters begin their cold calls by saying “I’m calling to introduce myself and see if you have any vacancies that I can help you with.” That doesn’t qualify as a valid reason to call because it’s all about the recruiter, there’s no clear benefit to the client.
Tailor your script to each call and make it about the client – “I know you’re looking for a Quality Manager and I just interviewed someone who’s definitely worth considering…” or “I’ve recently filled a similar role with one of your competitors and as you know, these people are not easy to find. I thought you might be interested in the results of the research we’ve already done in this area…” Actually write down what you want to say – you only get one chance to make a positive first impression!
3. Ask intelligent questions
Many sales people – including recruiters – talk too much. Your success at new business development depends on your ability to engage your prospects in a meaningful dialog. That involves asking intelligent, open ended questions that cut straight to the core issues.
Plan ahead what specific questions you want to ask the client. , and select questions that will add value and/or stimulate the client’s interest.
Clients get asked the same questions over and over again by recruiters, so it’s not surprising they get impatient. Questions like: “Do you have any openings? How many people are in your department? Do you use agencies?” Instead try asking questions that are more consultative and uncover problems that you can solve. “What’s your strategy for sourcing the most talented [job title or occupation] in the market? What do you see as the pros and cons of that approach? What obstacles or challenges have you encountered? What impact does that have on the success of this project? How does that affect you personally? What skills do you find most difficult to find? What roles are you currently struggling to fill? Which of those is your biggest priority?”
Successful salespeople focus on what they can control. You can’t control whether or not you pick up a job on the first call, or even whether the client will be receptive to you. However you can control what you chose to focus on, what you spend your time doing, and what actions to take – such as doing your homework, having a valid reason to call, and asking intelligent questions. If you do work on doing those three things well, you’ll get dramatically better results from your business development efforts.