How many times would you call a prospect?

The road to new business is often a long and laborious one. For anyone who’s ever been involved in winning new business, you’ll recognise that customers don’t simply flock to your door and buy from you instantaneously. Instead it often feels as though you’re locked in an endless battle of trying to win people over.

So, what happens when someone shows an interest in your company?

Surely they bang down your door to get their hands on what you’ve got, don’t they? Well, in the game of cat and mouse that is new business, it’s not always that simple. It still requires a lot of work from you, the ‘cat’, to pursue your quarry.

Cue the phone calls, emails and countless messages left in the hope of catching your target at an opportune moment. So, if you’re giving up after the first attempt because your prospect is out, or you’re worried about being a ‘pest’, you’re doing yourself, and your chance of winning the business, a big disservice.

And for most businesses I talk with, those phone calls are sporadic to say the least. It’s also really disheartening to call, get through and then get a rejection!

So perhaps it’s better to face up to the reality that you’re not going to make all the calls you need to, because you’re busy with other ‘more urgent’ things to do.

That’s where good telemarketing can really deliver. And before I hear you say: “…yes, but they don’t know our business and they couldn’t possibly have the knowledge to sell our services”, consider this:

If you approach telemarketing a little differently, there are good results to be had. Because I agree, the reality is that a third party cannot sell your services. But they can do the legwork you don’t have time for. And if all you’re asking them to do is to broker a telephone conversation for you, then there are wins to be had.

There’s another crucial point here. Look at the two conversations below:

1. Hello, I wonder if you could let me know who is responsible for your training?

2. Hello Sarah, I noticed you had a look at our blog, “What do you do when your leaders already know it all?”, is that something you’re interested in?

Which is more likely to elicit a positive response?

The first is a cold call. The second is a call to someone we believe is interested and has been specifically targeted by job function.

What’s the big learn?

Telemarketing works best with warm contacts that have shown some level of interest. A targeted list of contacts that are sent a thought-provoking, pertinent email with a link to a blog, for example, who have then clicked and engaged with that material, are far more likely to be interested.

Now the telemarketer has something to talk about, and all they need now is tenacity!

And the reality is it can take a long to time to get to talk to the person who read the blog. You’re pestering them because chances are, they don’t know you called.

When it comes to new business there are very few ‘quick wins’; it all requires a degree of persistence and perseverance. And in the world of B2B, this is even more pertinent – especially if yours is a high-value, consultative sale.

So, yes, the telemarketer might call 15 times without getting to talk to that named contact. That’s where tenacity counts!

The pursuit of new business becomes even more complex if what your business sells isn’t available off the shelf. Yes, the ice-cream man is going to make a killing on a hot sunny day, but for those people without a “99 cone”, it’s not as straightforward.

While people might like the sound of what your high-value, consultative sale type business offers, without any ‘immediate tangible benefits for a defined price’, it becomes more of an exercise in proving how you can add value, by building reassurance and confidence in your business.

There are no easy wins…

Of course, not all business comes about through pursuing contacts. In many cases companies receive inbound enquiries and requests for work. But unless you’re in the fortunate position of being dominant in your marketplace, it’s likely you’ll have to work a little harder to win new customers – there are many more ‘Joe Bloggs’ firms of accountants than there are PwCs, after all.

Tenacity trumps luck

In our experience, the potential customer usually appreciates perseverance. Perhaps they haven’t had time to call and find out more. Perhaps they were interested in the proposition, but an urgent situation cropped up in their own business and it was pushed clean out of their mind.

If you’ve given them something interesting to think about, or what you’ve put in front of them has caught their attention, then chances are they will recall it and be up for a conversation. But that conversation is unlikely to happen, unless you make sure it does.

Messaging is key

However, you engage a potential customer, whether through an exhibition, email, paid search, telemarketing etc., the messaging has to be of the highest standard. That means, relevant, clear, interesting, and focused on your customer not on your business.

Just ask yourself, how many times have you wandered past a stand at an exhibition because the display tells you nothing about what the company does? Or why not recall the last cold telephone call you received asking about your office stationery requirements. Can you remember the name of the company? We’ll hazard a guess and say, probably not.

Clever and interesting messaging is an absolutely essential starting point, and it’s not something many are good at. Because if you’re not giving your prospect something worth remembering, they won’t; and all the follow up phone calls and emails will be far less effective.

So, next time you or your telemarketer is pursuing a prospect and have just unsuccessfully called again, remember that next time could be the one that makes all the difference.