Since the invention of the telephone, small business owners have dreaded cold calls. It’s rare that someone enjoys calling up a stranger and trying to sell something to him, even if the lead is pre-qualified in any way. The more you can warm up a lead, the less scary the process is. Warming up a lead, though, can take some planning.
Picking Your Leads
If you’re just picking a lead out of the phone book, it’s going to be harder to create a situation where you aren’t cold-calling — although it’s not impossible. If you start with a targeted list of prospective clients that you’d like to work with, however, the process gets easier. Just by the fact that you know enough about a potential customer to know that you want to work with them means that you’ve probably had some chance to become aware of them in the past (and the opposite becomes more likely). That means that you have a little more knowledge to work with.
Building a list of ideal leads is crucial to being able to create opportunities where you are interacting with potential clients who are already aware of your business and interested in working with you.
Contact Before Sales
It’s usually easier to talk to someone you already know than to a stranger, and the same holds true of selling. That means, logically, the people who you’re selling to shouldn’t be strangers. You need to get to know your prospects at least a little before you start selling. That can take different forms, depending on how long your sales cycle is and how much time you can afford to spend on each lead.
Warming up your leads can take the form of something as simple as calling them up and asking to send them a free report. Where most people aren’t interested in being sold to over the phone, the idea that they’re getting something for nothing is much more appealing. If you have more time to spend on a prospect, it may be worth trying to meet him in person. With social media and location-aware tools these days, it’s possible to get an idea of what events your prospect will be attending, allowing you to go as well. Of course, it’s important to keep such research within professional limitations — with tools like Facebook and Twitter, there can be a fine line between what is appropriate and what is creepy.
Sell on the Follow Up
By waiting until you follow up to sell, you can find that your prospects are warmer to your suggestions. You may have a little more information about their needs, allowing you to target your pitch, as well as a personal connection that will keep them from disconnecting as soon as they can politely manage. Every edge can help when it comes to sales, making it worth your time to work on building deeper connections with your prospects.
Image by Flickr user David J MorganGoogle+