Dialogue 8. Contact with buyer
T: Nobody can sell anything without contacting the buyer. Therefore, everything related to this contact affects your success directly.
Establishing the contact
S: The most difficult thing for us is to establish contact with a new customer.
T: Sure, it is. However, if you do not establish contact with a prospect, there will be no sale. Selling involves contact between sellers and buyers. This contact has to start at some point. It needs to be established.
How to establish contact with the buyer? As one would with any acquaintance. If you decide to meet someone, you should arrange the first meeting, let this person know who you are and why you want to meet them. Sometimes, you may need to persuade a middleman to introduce you. Why “persuade”? The middleman, by introducing you, takes a risk and assumes some responsibility if your introduction somehow “goes wrong.”
No matter how your introduction goes, it should lead to a personal meeting. And here, as always, the first 7-10 seconds are important. During these first seconds the perception of a person is formed. This, of course, is not an “imprinting,” like with chickens where the first moving thing it sees is his mother for life. But, the first impression is especially strong, and then it is very, very difficult to change.
When you meet a new person, you try to create a positive attitude towards you. You do everything to make it pleasant and interesting to him to communicate with you, and form a positive attitude. Otherwise, they will never want to face you again.
In addition, you are hinting to a new friend what you are interested in and why you would like to maintain this acquaintance. In other words, make a preliminary proposal so that the person guesses or understands what your expectations are.
A familiar description of the events? Of course. But what does this story have to do with sales? This is the direct analogy. The first meeting with a prospect is an acquaintance, the beginning, as you hope, of a long-term relationship with him and his company accompanied by purchases of your goods. In this case, it is your specific interest in establishing and maintaining the relationship. How does this interest differ from other reasons why you meet different people? Only by specificity, not by any general principle. And therefore, when you meet a potential buyer, you need to do the same thing you do when you meet any other person: find out about the person, get an opportunity to meet, meet with them in person, introduce yourself, create a first beneficial impression, maintain a positive attitude of a new acquaintance and inform him, directly or by hinting, why you are getting to know each other. The specificity of these standard actions is determined by a specific interest, a specific goal.
Let’s see what exactly should be done when your interest is to sell your product to a new buyer.
S: We all hate cold calls. They exhaust our nerves!
T: Rysyov describes cold calls like this:
What do we do when making a cold call? We upset the balance of the buyer. He wants to go back to his business. He does not want anything to be imposed on him, because he is fed up with it. You need to try very, very hard to get his attention -- to deserve the opportunity to be at least listened to.
But before you reach him, you need to know who you are calling. The better you prepare for the phone call, the greater the likelihood of success. What can be included in the preparatory phase? Answer the following questions:
What is the characterization of the company I call? What does it do?
How does it differ from its competitors?
Who makes decisions about what I want to discuss?
Does he already work with my competitors; did any of them turn to this company; or am I the first to address them (the latter is the grace of God)?
What are the main obstacles I will encounter at the beginning of the contact? How could I deal with them and what could be especially attractive for this company?
The general cold contact algorithm can be expressed in a few words: attention – interest – desire – action.
As you can see, a cold call starts with an unfavorable situation for both parties.
For the buyer, this is a violation of the steady course of affairs and the need to fend off unnecessary offers. A person who suddenly finds himself in the position of a buyer reacts to this like any other change: first, by denying (“I don’t need anything”), then by anger (“What do you want from me?”), then by bargaining (“Okay, if I send you to someone else, would you leave me alone?”), then depression comes (“Oh God, they really got on my nerves!”), but if I can get through it, I can accept it (“Maybe I really need these goods. We should take a look”).
For the seller, such a call is also a stressful situation. You need to call a stranger, and society considers this impolite. Well, yes, the hooligans in childhood — they called the first number that came in and said all kinds of nonsense, but that was in childhood. In the same way, a cycle of reactions to the inevitable begins (“I must call this person whom I have never seen in my life!”). The stage of denial (“It is impolite to call strangers”) is replaced by anger (“This damned life (this damned boss) makes me do this unpleasant thing!”), then the situation continues with bargaining (“Well, okay, I’ll call this time, but if they reject me, I won’t call anyone else”) and depression (“They will definitely reject me!”), and in the best case, everything ends with the acceptance (“Well, I’ll call, they won’t bite me for that”).
So, both sides, for starters, do not even want to talk. But you need to overcome your doubts and call.
How to overcome this “chasm” at the beginning of a cold call? More precisely, how to overcome two “chasms,” both yours and the other person’s.
To do this, start a conversation with something familiar that interests both parties, or to slip through negation and anger, at least. What to talk about? Of course, about what benefits the prospect could gain if the company buys the offered goods. More on this later, in the Verbal Beginning section. You just need to talk about the benefits for a particular prospect rather than about the “benefits in general.”
If the conversation goes well, then the prospect’s objections will follow. Each objection, in fact, hides the fear of some trouble. By objecting, the prospect is trying to protect themselves from this threat. After hearing the objections, you need to find out what trouble the prospect is afraid of, and promise him your help on avoiding this trouble when you meet in person.
The recipient of the cold call might be the “gatekeeper,” and your goal is to arrange a meeting with someone who can make a purchase decision. You need to work here in the same way as during the sale. The gatekeeper’s objections somehow differ from the buyer’s, but the approach should be the same.
A cold call should start with a short message. You will see an example of how to formulate it when we talk about the beginning of the first personal meeting. While at a meeting with a buyer you should start this message with benefits for the company or its consumers, in a cold call it is better to start with benefits for the person you are talking with.
The desired course of events for you is as follows: your interlocutor concludes that your product might be beneficial for the decision maker, decides to let you in for a personal meeting, and then the decision maker accepts your offer. In this case, your interlocutor will be treated as a person with common sense. How can you help him? Facilitate his decision-making.
Then everything depends on the position of your interlocutor in the company and, accordingly, on what decision s/he should make.
If this is a clerk answering phone calls, their task is to decide (a) whether to connect you to someone, (b) who exactly you should be connected to, and (c) whether you should be connected directly to the decision maker or to a gatekeeper. How can you facilitate this decision-making? Firstly, immediately tell him who exactly will decide on your offer. Secondly, ask him to connect you not to the decision-maker, but to his “gatekeeper” (secretary, assistant, etc.). In this way, you remove the risk of error from the interlocutor and put it on the shoulders of the “gatekeeper.” Thirdly, explain how important it is for the company to accept your proposal, what benefits the company will gain.
How to facilitate the gatekeeper’s decision-making? Gatekeeper’s functions are to “cut off” unnecessary contacts and let the necessary ones in. Even if you tell the gatekeeper what benefits the company might gain, certain doubts and concerns remain.
The main task of a cold call to the gatekeeper is to handle their fears quickly and clearly. The main fear is to “cut off” an offer important to the decision-maker and his job, or to redirect your call improperly, to the wrong person. These two mistakes, if they become known to the authorities, may cost them their job.
If you got directly to the boss, his main fears will be the same: the risk of a mistake in assessing the importance of your offer or in deciding who should directly deal with you. In this case (like in the previous one!), the job suffers, and to some extent the boss suffers, too.
Do you need to handle concerns right during the call? Hardly. It is best to limit yourself to three questions:
So, [your concern] prevents you from scheduling an appointment with me?
What trouble could happen if you, in spite of [your concern], make an appointment?
If we could together find how to avoid [trouble], would you make an appointment?
After this, you need to offer: “Let us all meet and discuss how to avoid [trouble]. And then you decide whether to talk with me further.”