How to start, conduct, and end a prospecting call with grace and ease
If you connect with prospects face to face (or ear to ear, in the case of phone meetings), you know it’s exciting to personally interact with a potential new client.
If you’re smart, you also know that not every prospect is a good prospect just because she has money. The trick is to be efficient and effective about weeding out the potential Clients From Hell from the potential dream clients, so that you can not only conduct, but end an unproductive prospect call gracefully. Here are some tips to make the weeding fast and easy.
Be clear about what you want to accomplish in the call.
You’ll actually take the first step toward ending a call before you ever make it. That step is to get crystal-clear in advance about what outcome you’re looking for.
Note that I don’t assume closing the prospect is the goal of the discussion. If you and the prospect are a bad fit for each other, you’ll only cause stress and strain if you try to close.
A better outcome to shoot for is to decide if this prospect is a good fit for you – and vice versa.
Know your red flags and respect them.
These are the deal breakers, the danger signals, the gut-level hysterical screaming that cries out, “Don’t work with this person!”
Remember, just because a prospect has a pulse and can fog a mirror, that doesn’t mean it’s in your best interests to work with her.
Both you and your potential client deserve to work with someone who will be a joy to interact with – effective, efficient, and (dare I say it?) fun. That means you get to stick with your selection criteria, no matter how tempting the money or how strong the conviction this prospect really, really could use your help.
For example, I choose to avoid working with anyone who is a:
- fan of “yes, but…”
- slug unwilling to do uncomfortable work
- human version of pessimistic Eeyore
So what are your deal breakers? It doesn’t matter so much what they are, so long as you know what they are and refuse to compromise on them.
If you’re clear on your goal and on your deal breakers, it’s easy to implement the next step.
Always go into the call with a plan.
A template you use on every prospecting call is an invaluable tool. By using the same questions with every prospect, you’ll:
- avoid reinventing the wheel for each call, thus saving your precious time
- maintain control of the conversation
- increase your efficiency
Now, I’m not talking about a rote recitation of questions that will come off like a one-size-fits-all interrogation. Instead, I’m talking about a carefully crafted document that will enable you to achieve your desired outcome: a confident decision that you and this prospect are right for each other – or not.
The right prospects = the right clients = success.
The most efficient structure I’ve found for this template consists of three parts:
- setting the stage so you and the prospect agree on the basic format and purpose of the call
- qualifying the prospect; this answers the question, “Do I want to work with her?”
- uncovering the prospect’s pain; this makes it easy for the prospect to answer with a resounding “Yes!” when she asks herself, “Do I want to work with her (or him)?”
You’ll notice that laying out the questions this way makes for a very efficient conversation: If you decide during the qualification process that you couldn’t be paid enough to work with this prospect, then you don’t need to waste your time uncovering her pain, since she’s not the right client for you.
Be prepared for all possibilities.
This means having an effective close prepared for those prospects you’re confident you want to work with.
It also means preparing, in advance, phrases you can use to end a call with a prospect you know is wrong for you, based on her answers to your qualifying questions. Here are some phrases you can use right away or adapt to your own voice.
- Based on our discussion so far, it’s clear to me that I’m not a good fit for you. I feel strongly that you’ll get better results by continuing your search for a service provider who is a good fit.
- I once worked with a client in similar circumstances, and we decided after a time that we weren’t a good fit for each other after all. Since I don’t want to waste your money or our time, I think the most useful thing I can do for you is to recommend that you keep looking for someone who can do a good job of helping you reach your goals.
- In my experience, I’ve found that I’m not particularly effective working with people in your situation. And, so as not to waste anyone’s time or money, I’m going to encourage you to do some more looking for a service provider who’s a good fit for you.
What are some methods you’ve developed to handle a prospect call gracefully yet effectively? Please share your tools in the Comments section below, so we can all have an easier time with this challenging situation.
And, to thank you for your input, I’ll send you – free of charge – the guidelines I used to create the template I use myself for prospecting calls. Their Pain, Your Profit: How to Qualify Prospects and Uncover Their Pain will get you launched on creating a replicable and highly effective template for every single prospecting call you make as you forge ahead in building your business.
(By the way, thanks to Carrington Vanston for posting the picture of the old prospector in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in professional skills, time management skills and tagged effectiveness, sales. Bookmark the permalink.