What advice do you have for a cold caller who sells services?
Sales mentor Pat Cavanaugh reponds to the following question from an Inc.com user: I'm 24 years old and in my second sales job. I'm currently an insuranceproducer for an independent agency. I started this job three monthsago, and I'm in the phase of prospecting, cold calling, and sending pre-approach letterswith a brochure. The main road block I run into every day is that my propertyand casualty prospects don't even want to give me the time of day unless they have a current problem or if their insurance is coming up for renewal. I continually respond with the fact that I'm not trying to sell them anything right now, I just want to see if their companyand ours are a match for each other, and request a 10-15 minute appointment. I've been on the phones for at least a month and a half and have yet to get an appointment. Any advice? Different pre-approach? Different phone verbage? Any help would be great!
Pat Cavanaugh's response: First of all, don't get discouraged! You are prospecting. In the Old West prospectors spent days and weeks looking for gold. Most of the time they didn't find anything. But when they did make that strike, it was well worth it.
There are opportunities for your company with these prospects under two circumstances: One, they currently have a problem, and two, their insurance is coming up for renewal. Those are the times you want the appointment. Appointments are so valuable they should not be wasted onjust collecting information or seeing if two companies are a match. Appointments are the first step in the direct-selling process.
You can collect information in other ways that seem less obtrusive to the prospect. For instance, design some sort of questionnaire that collects some of the information you need, and do a direct mailing with an incentive attached. Send out a 20-minute pre-paid phone card, with a note thanking them for taking the time to fill out the survey, and then offer the chance to win a bigger incentive prize (related to the phone card) if they return the survey. You get the information you need that might better target your timing to making calls to prospects, which could lead to direct sales. Also, for those that return the surveys, provide regular updates on your company and its products and services leading up to the time you think it is best to contact them by phone.
A couple of other things to think about. First, see if you can meet prospects for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Everyone has to eat, and if you can meet with them during these times, they will feel more comfortable meeting with you because it won't be cutting into their schedules. Second, remember in any sales situation, if there is not a need, it is your responsibility to create one. Be a source of information for them on any insurance-related topic. If you can be a resource for them or make their business more profitable, you have a better chance of meeting with them. Come right out and ask them, "Is your business as profitable as you would like? I can make it more profitable. I just need 10 minutes of your time. I'll even bring a stopwatch. If this week isn't good, what about next week?"
One personal tip I like to use if someone if being difficult with me is, "All I'm asking for is a chance, for 10 minutes. Didn't anyone ever give you a chance?" How would you respond to this question? It works!