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The Sales Process - Step 2 - Initial Contact

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Step Two: The Initial Contact

  • When the prospect initiates the contact - Prospects will visit you during normal business hours if you have a store or business location. If you do not have a store, they might contact you by phone, mail, email, or through your Web site to request information, ask questions and/or to make a purchase. Prospects might also call at odd hours to find out when you're open or where your store is located. Be sure your answering machine message, answering service or Web site answers these questions.
  • When you initiate the contact - One of the most common initial contacts is a "cold call" conducted by phone or in person. A cold call refers to a contact made with prospects who have not indicated they desire the call. It's obviously much more efficient–and most say more successful–to conduct cold calls on the telephone rather than to drive around town, but you might have a reason that warrants an in-person cold call on occasion.

These tips may help you turn cold calls into warm prospects:

  • First, determine your objective and the purpose of your call. Your purpose may be to make an appointment, to inform, to question, to talk to a certain person, to sell, etc. Additionally, determine if you want to close the sale on the first call or simply pave the way for a later call or sales presentation.
  • Try to do a little homework before the call. If you know someone who may have insight or information about the prospect, call him or her.
  • Send a fax or mail some information prior to the cold call. Reference the information in the call, but don't open with, "Did you get the information I sent?" This allows the prospect to simply say, "no," just to get you off the phone. Instead, try something like, "I sent you some information by fax yesterday; I'm following up to provide additional information"
  • When you're ready to make the call, make sure you have all the materials you need at hand. For example, if the purpose of your call is to make an appointment, have your appointment book open and a working pen or pencil in front of you.
  • State your purpose quickly–within 15 seconds.
  • Get prospects interested by asking questions that make them think.
  • Make statements that build rapport and confidence.
  • Use humor–people love to laugh.
  • Be sincere.
  • Be friendly–people like to buy from people they like.
  • Keep your eye on the prize–never lose sight of your objective, regardless of the outcome of the call.



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