It was back many years ago and my first day on the job in my new sales career. Nervous? Absolutely! I was driving up to the Knoxville office of the old Digital Equipment Corporation where I spent 15 years of my career. I had just completed the Internal Sales Development Program and was excited to see what it was like to sell computers to people I have never met.
My first assignment was to prospect. So I asked my sales manager, “what do I do?” He smiles, sits me down at one of the many cubicles in the office and says, “start smiling and dialing”. But what number would I dial? He then hands me the yellow pages, asks me to turn to the letter “C” and look under computers. Then what? Well Stu, start calling the companies and see if they would be interested in carrying our computer line as a reseller – finding resellers was my first assignment. 1st call-hi my name is Stu Schlackman with Digital Equipment Corporation and I wanted to see if you would be interested in carrying our line of computers? Digital who-says the prospect? Click! Next call-same opening-no thanks we carry IBM. Next call was a company by the name of Four Phase Computer Systems- hello my name is….. Response? Son, do you realize we compete against Digital? No sir, but thank you that’s good to know. How embarrassing and yes that’s what many of us in sales are afraid of, embarrassment, rejection and the final outcome-futility!
According to recent research, “Finding New Clients” is the 2nd biggest challenge life insurance agents face. This is also true of many other industries. Why? Is it because of the rate of change? That’s part of it. Less demand and more supply, yes again. Many already are doing business with one of your competitors. It can also be a lack of focus in your marketing efforts. Let’s explore 3 ways to target new clients.
1. First, you have to know what your target market looks like. What is your company known for and what does the ideal prospect look like? Where have you had the best success where the client saw the value and the sales cycle was minimal? If you’ve had repeat business in this market, most likely this would be a good target market to pursue. Define the characteristics of your market and use your existing clients as references and to ask for referrals. This turns a cold call into a warm call. If you have happy clients they are normally willing to help open a few doors with their network of business colleagues. It’s much easier to focus on a target than to have a shot gun approach where you can’t send the same consistent message.
2. Second, you have to offer a compelling reason to meet. What would the client/prospect gain from meeting with you? Can you communicate that message? Again, one of the best approaches is to let them know how you’ve helped other clients, which demonstrates the value you deliver. Can you articulate your value in a brief amount of time? That’s what they need to hear in the first 20 seconds.
3. Third, you have to overcome their objection to meet. As my good friend and Cold Calling 101 expert Barry Caponi would say, prospects will lie to get you off the phone. The best way to handle their objection is to ask them a question that will reveal an issue they are having. It’s the perfect time to say, “Stu that’s exactly why I think it would be worth our time to meet”.
If you want to find new clients – and who doesn’t, you need to do 3 things:
- Intimately understand your target market
- Articulate the benefits that you provide
- Overcome meeting rejection with a well-crafted question
Using and mastering these techniques will fill your pipeline with new prospects and clients.