You call a prospect for the first time and ask to meet. Little do you realize that you are the 10th call they received that very day for the same reason. Are you different? Why should they say yes, when you’ve never met? Of course you know to lead with value, what makes you different, and how you have helped customers just like them before. You are denied the meeting and wonder what else you can do to get a second chance to go in and have a conversation and the opportunity to learn if there is a fit to do business. This is one of the biggest challenges every sales professional faces today – scheduling an appointment with a new prospect. You know that without prospecting, there’s minimal opportunity for success. Yet, what else can you do to increase your chances of getting that vital first meeting?
Let’s explore 3 reasons that can make a difference when asking your prospect to say yes to an initial meeting.
1. Mutuality – it is so much easier to turn a cold call into a warm one when you have a mutual relationship. It’s naturally easier to start a conversation out with someone by saying “John my name is Stu Schlackman with Competitive Excellence and Jack Reynolds suggested I contact you in regards to….” The probability of John accepting the invitation to a meeting is much higher. After all, John might be letting down his friend if he didn’t agree to meet. It’s natural for people you know to help you – that’s what relationships are all about.
2. Commonality – though similar to mutuality, the difference here is that both you and your prospect might have something in common that reaches beyond that of a mutual contact. It can be an organization, a hobby, an interest in a business topic or friends whether business or social. One example our team experienced several years ago was getting with an executive at a large firm in North Dallas. We were trying to see if this person had anything in common with members of our team. Come to find out the person was in an article of a major magazine and it talked about his hobby of being a triathlete. Since I had completed several in the past, I called leading with the following statement and question “John my name is Stu Schlackman with ….. and I saw your article in …. magazine last month. Besides being interested in the issues you mentioned about IT technology priorities for this year, I was impressed to see that you too competed in the Capital of Texas Triathlon. I participated in the same one 2 years ago and wanted to see if you enjoyed the experience as much as I did”. What do you think happened then? You got it – we met and struck up a friendly and productive relationship. You can do this too – a little research will help you discover what you have in common.
3. Credibility – your reputation in the market is critical to your success and prospects value credibility. Having mutual contacts and being referred by them adds to your credibility. Having something in common like running a triathlon or receiving the same award from an organization also contributes to your reputation which increases the likelihood of getting the meeting. The goal is to connect with the prospect in a way that gets them to be open to who you are and the company you represent. Prospects also like to talk about their successes. Prospects are more likely to open up when you lead with their expertise in the market. The conversation can open in the following way. “John we understand that in the area of inventory control, you are one of the top experts in the industry. Our company has a practice in the very same area and we would enjoy the opportunity to visit with you to get your insight on the challenges the industry is facing. Would you have time next week to visit”? People enjoy sharing their knowledge. Notice that the objective of the meeting is to learn and build trust, NOT to sell.
Mutuality, commonality and credibility are excellent ways to make prospecting more warm than cold. Part of the reason that social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are so successful is that they provide opportunities for warm introductions. They make it much easier to research and find out more about the people you want to meet.
As you create your sales plan for the new month, consider how you can utilize mutual relationships, your hobbies and interests to help you build credibility. You are certainly more likely to find a warm response!