Working in local media sales over the past 2 decades, I’ve noticed one thing that hasn’t seemed to change much over the years: most new client relationships are the result of a set appointment to discuss advertising, either on the phone or in person. Also, the clients who are attained through set appointments tend to buy the right program more often and last longer when compared to clients acquired via other means like walk in “cold call closes” or “fire sale” deadline closes.
One of the best ways to get set appointments with serious prospects is pick up the phone and “dial for dollars.” Following are telemarketing tips and a complete methodology that has worked for me and many Advertising Sales Pros I have shared it with over the years.
Put Yourself In A Place To Succeed
Get set up in a clean, quiet place that is free from distractions. The perfect phone prospecting set-up consists of a phone, a computer, an internet connection, and as little else as possible.
Mondays Are For Phone Prospecting
Mondays are the best day for phone prospecting. Using Mondays as “office days” to set up the week, handle any admin tasks, and make phone calls is a proven formula for success.
Also, by calling on Monday, prospects are more likely to have time to schedule a meeting before the week fills up with tasks. Setting the meeting for the same week gives you a better shot at having client remember and be there for the meeting.
Win The Numbers Game… Phone Calls Lead To Sales
Phone prospecting is best done in 2 sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each session should be about 2-3 hours and consist of about 30-50 calls. That’s about a call per 5 minutes which accounts for time on hold along with entering data, follow up tasks and appointments.
60 to 100 phone calls on a Monday is reasonable if you do not, ever, ever, ever pitch on the phone when you’re calling for appointments. Out of 60-100 calls, it’s reasonable to expect about 4-10 set appointments. Out of 4-10 set appointments with highly qualified prospects, you can expect a 25% closing ratio. That’s 1 or 2 sales per week.
Also, some people will call you back throughout the week responding to messages you leave, some people you meet with will close at end of the selling cycle on special deals, etc…
Practice Makes Perfect
You will need to practice this telemarketing methodology a lot before becoming adept at it. Don’t get frustrated if you are not “smooth” at first. Just stick to the script and keep attempting to close the appointment. Every attempt is one step closer to setting an appointment and one step closer to a new client. As you become more comfortable, it will sound more like a relaxed, natural conversation even though you are still on the script.
Things to Remember
All calls should be routine and consistent. Work your way down your lead list one at a time. Don’t skip around “cherry picking” prospects to call. However, there’s one exception, it’s ok to skip calling restaurants during lunch and dinner rush and get back to them later.
Do not make a sales presentation over the phone. The purpose of this call is only to set an appointment. Try to stay on this script as much as possible.
Enter data you obtain on the and follow up tasks into your CRM as you go at that entry can be done quickly without breaking the rhythm of a calling session. However, save composing and sending emails to prospects for the end of the session, don’t break up the momentum of the call session.
Step 1: Introduce Yourself
“Hi! I’m hoping you can help me…”
Wait for them to respond. They will respond by asking how they can help you or affirming that they can help you. This starts the call out on the right foot and puts the person on the other end of the line in a non defensive state, ready to help you.
“My name is ____________ with ___________”
Step 2: Get to the Decision Maker (DM)
“Could you tell me who I would speak with that makes the advertising and marketing decisions for your business? Is that you?”
Step 3: Set the Appointment
“The reason for my call is that we put together a local marketing program that I think may be a really great fit for your business. I would like to swing by for about five or ten minutes and introduce it to you. How does Thursday afternoon or Friday morning look for you? I could be by at 10…or is 11 better?”
By giving the DM the choice of days and times, you have already made his decision on whether to see you or not. His only decision now is when to see you.
…the DM is not available?
Get their name and the best time to reach them. Try to get their email address as well. Put the information you get into highrise and then send the DM an email if an email address was attained.
…they want more information?
Often a DM will try to get more information over the phone. Try to be as brief as possible and try to re-close the day or time of the meeting.
Many times this response will be effective: “We work successfully with many businesses similar to yours on this marketing program. I would like to take five or ten minutes to introduce it to you so you can make an educated decision. I think it’s something you will be interested in.”
Reclose! “How does Thursday at 3 look for you?”
If this doesn’t work, always have a few “bullets” ready to fire at a prospect in case they are hesitant to see you. Mention a few successful advertisers similar to them (in terms of industry or demographic targeted) or a unique product feature and re-close for the appointment. Always give as little information as possible over the phone. If you give your whole pitch over the phone, the prospect can say “No” over the phone without ever seeing you or hearing the complete story of your advertising medium in context of their needs.
…the DM says the ad budget is spent for the rest of the year?
If a DM says they do not want to meet with you because their ad budget is spent for the rest of the year, it may be true. However, it is more than likely an just an excuse. If you can get in front of the DM you will still have a good chance of closing a sale. The following response may get you a meeting:
“I would still like to show you our program so that you are fully aware of your options when you are budgeting for next year.” Reclose! “How does Thursday at 3 look for you?”
…they don’t want to “make an appointment”?
Sometimes a DM will say they do not want to set up an appointment because their schedule is too “unpredictable” or want you to “just send some information.” Often the following will be effective in finding out a good time to stop by:
“I don’t want to just ‘walk in on you’ and I really want you to have samples of actual ads that have worked for your type of business and some information about who we are and what we do. I’d drop it of at a time that’s convenient…not during ‘rush time’. Can you give me a day and time that’s usually calm at your shop? I’ll just swing by and bring the media kit. I’ll ask for you and if you’re free I’d love to put a face with a name, shake your hand and just say ‘Hi’. If not, I’ll just leave the information for you.” Reclose! “How does Thursday afternoon look for you?”
There is one exception. If a DM is a multi-location operator, marketing director or offices out of town, this is a legitimate request. Try to get their email address as well as their mailing address. Tell them you will send them a media kit right away and email to follow up.
…they still say no to an appointment?
Get their permission to “drop off” a media kit. Try to “drop it off” when you know they are going to be there. If the DM is there when you stop by, they will be more likely to talk with you because you have spoken to them before and aren’t just walking in on them.
Step 4: Confirm The Appointment
“I look forward to meeting you on Thursday at 3. Can I go on get your email address to send you my contact information? Just in case something comes up and you need to shuffle the your schedule.”
Asking for the email to send them your contact information in case something comes up is a great way to get their direct email address for follow up after the meeting. You never know if their email will be on their business card when you meet, so get it while you have an opportunity and a valid reason to ask for it.