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Calling Prospective Customers for the First Time

Always state your I.P.A. at the start of every Sales Pitch, Call or Presentation.

    • I – Introduction – what’s your name and who do you work for or represent
    • P – Purpose – why you are calling. Include a ‘Hook’ – more on this later
    • A – Agenda – give an overview of what is going to take place during the presentation/call. This is also known as Framing – again, more on this later

Always give your first and second name when you call…

…at least until the customer gets to know you better and great rapport as been established.

Never ask “is now a good time to talk?

This gives the customer the perfect excuse to hang up before they’ve even heard the reason why you are calling. If they sound rushed, give the reason for the call and an indication of how long the call will last.

    • Only one of my clients asks that question, this is because they call existing customers who spend a lot with them on other products and they do not want to risk this strong existing relationship over a badly planned call.

Demonstrate some empathy and say that you understand and ask when would be a better time to call back

If they say that “now, isn’t a good time – before they answer, ask an ‘alternative closed’ if they would like to call back later today or is there a good time tomorrow.

    • Whichever answer they give you, try and get a specific time – so that when you do call back you can start the conversation by saying to them ”you asked me to call back now, the reason for my call is …” 

Provide a Hook

This gives the customer a reason for why you are calling (e.g. “I’m calling about a special promotion on our Double Flange Conflomogrator”“I’m calling today to ask you a few questions about …” or “I’m calling today, because we have been introduced our Anit-Clickwise Sprick Sprockets to a number of business similar to yours which has helped them reduce their …/ increase their …/ doubled their …”

Framing the call

This sets things in context – it provides the Big Picture, an Overview of what is coming up over the next XXX minutes. It gives the customer an outline of why they should give you time.

    • Framing should be full of ‘Advantage’ statements of how your product can help organisations such as theirs. These are not Feature or Benefit Statements (more on Features, Advantages and Benefits on a future post)

Use the customer’s name early in the call and listen out for how they wish to be addressed

    • If they say – “it’s Mr McGlumpher” – guess what? They want to be addressed formally as Mr McGlumpher
    • If they say – “it’s Shuggie” – say something straight away like “Hi Shuggie, the reason for my call today is …” (this allows them to hear your voice saying their name, this is much better than hearing it later in the call – when they may have forgotten how they addressed themselves)
    • If they say “it’s Shuggie McGlumpher”, ask “is it ok if I call you Shuggie?” – in this case it is unlikely that they will say no but are pleased that you had the decency and respect to ask permission

Using a customers name throughout a call is a huge rapport builder, bu…

But don’t overuse it – I’ve heard someone saying the customers name seventeen times on a 20 minute call before – it sounded bad enough to me and it wasn’t even my name.
    • I’d always suggest use it at least 3 times on a call (at the beginning, at the end and conversationally during the call) – This obviously will vary depending on the length of a call

Stand Up to add energy to your voice, especially at the start of a call …

.and move around a bit, gesticulate and “think on your feet”. Good posture will definitely allow you to come across more enthusiastically and interested in what the customer is saying

    • I can walk into a call centre and often identify who are the poor, ok and great sales people just by their body language on a call

“Smile while you dial is a bit of a corny old expression, but,

I do believe in it to a certain extent – but please, please, please make it genuine.

    • I’ve been in Contact Centres where they have placed small mirrors on the monitor of the agent’s computer. How well do you think that went down with the agents? How soon do you think the smile turned into a sneer? How soon do you think it was before the agents were checking out spots, bits between their teeth and to see if their manager was anywhere close behind them?
    • I was in one centre and thought I was getting watched by the CCT cameras – I soon realised that it wasn’t the cameras that were watching me but loads of computer monitors following my every move.

Start the conversation by asking some cracking Open Questions

Establish what questions open the customer up, and make sure you know why you are asking questions – I’ve heard hundreds of sales people asking great questions and then do nothing with the answer – so, what are you asking, why are you asking it and what are you going to do with the answer?

Ask Open Questions to find out what the customer likes about their current supplier. 

    • This often surprises potential customers, because competitors to their existing suppliers such as yours often try to get the potential customer to speak badly of their current provider.
    • Which even if they have issues with them, they don’t want to tell you.
    • Asking what they like about them will help you establish their buying criteria and what is important to them (Price? Quality? Service? Simplicity? etc)
    • This should help you to identify which Feature of your product could be important to the customer or help you anticipate potential Objections to your product
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