I recently received an email from a good friend who wanted to discuss a sales concept that he read about. The concept is that in order to generate client interest, you should call a prospect 10 times. Before I give my opinion, I am going to pause for a deep breath so I don’t get heart palpitations from such a ridiculous and misguided approach to sales.
Okay. Now, why do I hate this concept? It is a band-aid on perpetually bleeding wound. A proper approach to sales takes time and effort – and that effort should be spent on creating a system that gives you the best chance for success, not in pounding your head against a wall 10 times. I am not saying that people should not be persistent – I am saying that the concept of calling a potential client 10 times is not realistic and not scalable. Instead of making those 10 calls, consider these reasons your current approach is not successful:
- You have not defined your target audience. I do enjoy the phrase “She could sell ice to an Eskimo,” as an explanation of sales prowess, but it is actually pretty stupid. Do some research and find people that need ice.
- You don’t have a relationship. We like to do business with people we trust, and it is hard to gain that trust when your approach is obviously some concocted sales pitch you learned at a seminar. Building relationships takes time and it requires a genuine understanding of the people involved in the business.
- You have no clout. If you are someone the client knows or respects, they will take your call. If Mark Zuckerberg, Jay Z, or Tom Brady called you just one time you would take the call. You don’t have to be world-famous to have clout – find a way to gain prominence in your industry.
- Your products and services don’t have real value. Maybe you feel like you have to make 10 calls because the company you work for is not offering anything worth paying attention to. Maybe you should contribute your knowledge to help improve the offering.
- You have not properly defined your value. If your products or services do have real value, then it should not require 10 calls to demonstrate that value to a potential client. Create a clear, concise way to describe the benefits of doing business with your company.
- You don’t ask good questions. How can you claim to know what my business needs when you haven’t asked me any questions? You’re too busy telling me about your company, products, and services. Find out about your client’s specific need and then relate your services to that.
- You are not creating demand. Any sales person will tell you that it’s much easier to answer the phone than it is to dial it. Stop using social media as a way to keep tabs on your old boyfriend and start branding yourself.
- You are not focused on improving your approach. Anyone that tells you “cold-calling is dead” is going to try to sell you their book – run away! Cold-calling is fine IF you pay attention to what you’re doing, track your efforts, and make necessary adjustments to improve.
- You are calling the wrong person. Find out who makes the decisions and stop bothering the receptionist.
- You are annoying. Dude, if I told you “no” once, I am going to tell you “no” 9 more times, and I’m going to be more angry about it each time. You would be better off calling 10 people once rather than calling one person 10 times.
Success in sales takes strategy, effort, and business acumen – not salesmanship. If you don’t have the skill or patience, or if you work for a company that provides no real value, then by all means, call someone 10 times – just don’t call me!