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Land a Customer Meeting: 4 Rules

Yeah, we know: Cold calling stinks. Here's how to get someone to give you the time of day.

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The point of cold calling, direct marketing and email marketing is to set up an initial meeting with a prospective customer.

You can greatly increase the likelihood you'll land the meeting if you follow these simple rules:

1. Offer a reason that's compelling to the customer.

You already know why you want the meeting; your challenge is to communicate why the customer should want to meet with you.  This entails providing, in a sentence or two, a specific benefit that makes sense to the customer, ideally based upon your research into that specific customer.

  • Wrong: "I want to build a business relationship with you and your firm."
  • Right: "Based on your annual report, we can probably save you somewhere around $10 million."

2. Don't use tired sales clichés.

Jargon that sounds like it came right out of the Home Shopping Network may sound exciting and businesslike to you, but it raises huge red flags in the minds of most customers.

Cut the sales blab and simply say what it is that you're selling.

  • Wrong: "I'd like to provide you with a free evaluation of our fully guaranteed packaging design services, at absolutely no cost to you!"
  • Right: "We create product packaging designs that surveys show can increase your retail sales by up to 25%."

3. Request a specific and short amount of time. 

Customers, like everyone else, are too busy for long meetings–especially with people whom they barely know.

You increase your chances of getting a meeting if you put a specific limit on how much time you need–especially if it's not very much time.

  • Wrong: "I'd like to schedule some time on your calendar to discuss how we can help massively reduce your inventory costs!"
  • Right: "If you can give me 15 minutes, we can run through some numbers and I can provide you with a fairly accurate estimate of the specific savings."

4. Agree to the date and time the customer suggests.

When you're making the appointment, agree to whatever time is convenient for the prospect. Just make sure you schedule something far enough in advance that, if necessary, you can move the meeting to a time that's more convenient for you.

  • Wrong: "I have time available next Thursday between 2 and 4."
  • Right: "What date and time next week works for you?"

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IMAGE: Flickr/lori.e.burleson
Last updated: Jun 1, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES did a lot of business stuff and wrote a slew of articles and books. Now he writes this column. Preorder his new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, by May 12 and get an exclusive bonus chapter and a signed bookplate.
@Sales_Source




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